Meeting between School Board, Council demanded

Published 10:03 am Wednesday, October 3, 2012

by Don Blythe

I write this letter as a LAST CHANCE DESPERATE PLEA for your help.

It has been stated by a past chairman of the school board, Steve Stewart, publisher of The Tidewater News (“Disturbing trend continues,” Sept. 9), the editorial section of The Tidewater News (“Enough is enough,” Sept. 30), the state of Virginia, and citizens and teachers that our schools are close to crashing and being run with no one being held accountable for these problems.

Everyone seems to know this, but no one wants to open up a public discussion to talk about this, or really address the problems and look for meaningful solutions besides the one last year where the superintendent wanted to lower standards to improve performance.

The funny thing here is that it was never really explained to the public, and now they tell us they will not discuss what happened here. We find the School Board is not holding the superintendent accountable, and we now find the citizens are not holding City Council, the School Board, or even the superintendent accountable.

Our new mayor, Raystine Johnson, said when running for office that the schools were her main area of concern. It was her idea to have a joint meeting of City Council and School Board so council members could address their concerns and concerns from citizens and seek some accountability for the state of our schools.

From here, everything fell apart. Johnson used this time to pat herself, the school board chairman and the superintendent on the back and left no time for our questions to be answered.

You would have seen this if they would’ve broadcast this meeting as I asked, but they did not want you to see this. Again, it was as if she knew the public would not be happy for what they would discover and she spent her time then and now protecting her friends and her image.

Johnson now says they can just write their answers to us with no way for us to follow up with their answers. I even tried to have this reflected in our council meeting minutes on this night, but was overturned on this by the mayor and her gang on council.

They have their interest of protecting their group and the heck with our kids and our schools. I cannot open this major problem we have with our schools by myself so we can correct this problem.

It is up to you.

Time is running out and those we have elected and appointed to take care of our schools have let us down and are trying to hide all this behind closed doors.

I am asking, no pleading, that you write, call, e-mail your city council member, the mayor, the city manager to immediately put this meeting back on the agenda. This time hold it in the city council room and have it broadcast so the citizens can see for themselves.

It would even be nice to allow some time at this meeting for questions from the citizens.

Hiding our problems, not addressing past and present problems, protecting those responsible for accountability as our new mayor and school board appear to be doing is not the answer, and they need to know that this will not be how we handle this from here on out.

Teachers want to talk about this but cannot for fear of being fired. They cannot fire us, but we can fire them if they keep shutting us out of this problem with the chant that things are getting better when they are not.

I have done ALL that I can do. It is up to YOU. It is our city and they work for us. It is time we remind them of this and DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY and open public dialogue.

DON BLYTHE is the Ward 6 councilman for the City of Franklin and can be reached at