Henry Raymond

Fairfax News => Current News & Events => Topic started by: hunter on November 13, 2012, 06:41:58 PM

Title: Thank you Julie
Post by: hunter on November 13, 2012, 06:41:58 PM
I personally want to thank Julie Filiberti for what she does for her school/community. I urge you all to read her resigination letter to the board. I have zero confidence with our board/superintendant.
October 15, 2012
Fairfax Board of School Directors
75 Hunt Street
Fairfax, VT 05454
Dear Board Members,
I am resigning from my position of recording minutes for the Fairfax School Board effective
I met with Mr. Kirsch on Monday, October 8th, for a personnel related matter. Prior to the
conclusion of that meeting and completely off the topic of the meeting, he stated that my
physical presence at the table, the place where I have always sat while taking minutes for the
Board, was creating confusion. He requested me to sit elsewhere. Needless to say, after years of
sitting where I had, the same spot that those before me had sat, I was shocked and a bit
confused myself at this sudden change.
Later that evening when I arrived at the regular board meeting to take the minutes I would
agree with Mr. Kirsch that confusion was an appropriate word. Some members present verbally
expressed surprise and discomfort at my relocation and for others it registered on their faces
when they walked in the room. While I respect the Board's decision to have only Board
members sit at the official table, it is the manner in which this change occurred that I find so
unprofessional and so unsettling. Did this need to happen in this way after seven years of my
often praised and dedicated service to the Board?
As an employee, a parent, and a tax paying citizen who cares deeply about our school and
supports it in many ways, I am extremely troubled as to how and why an event such as this
could ever occur. Am I wrong in my conclusion that this was retribution for speaking up for
myself and others as a school employee? It is my personal experiences that leave me feeling that
dissent and opposing opinions are not welcome from Mr. Kirsch and that bullying and
harassment are seen as acceptable ways of silencing anyone who dares to speak up for
themselves, stand for their convictions, or question their treatment. I am not the first to
experience this at BFA nor do I think I will be the last. As school board officials of this town,
you are elected to represent the public and to be independent thinkers in making decisions
concerning the governing of our school. I encourage each one of you to step forward and ask
these questions among yourselves: How effectively are procedural changes being communicated
at the Board level as well as at other levels of our school? Is the Superintendent effectively
communicating the wishes of the Board as a whole? And are these perceptions I and others
have garnered truly reflective of the leadership model you have envisioned for our school?
Julie Filiberti
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: AbbeyC on November 13, 2012, 07:10:32 PM
Also as important read the attachment at the end of her letter. Hopefully a wake-up call to the board. When voting for a new member please keep in mind vote for the one who can make their own decisions and not controlled by the administration.
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: AbbeyC on November 13, 2012, 07:49:55 PM
Each of you as board members know me as a person and have valued the work that I
have done for this school over the years. You know me as a dedicated parent,
employee, and community member who does what I can to benefit and support our
students and their education. In the past you have valued my opinion and have asked
for my input on a variety of topics. You know me as an individual who is willing to stand
and speak for what I believe. This is what I believe:
It is my belief that you as a board, we as a school district, and each of us as individuals
need to condemn any and all behavior that can be construed as bullying or harassing in
nature -condemn it from the students, condemn it from the staff, and condemn it from
the administration. It is my opinion that the course of events that led to my resignation
were initiated not by the board, but by the superintendent himself, and I feel these
events were in retribution for my involvement in a personnel matter completely
unrelated to my job taking minutes for the board.
I question whether any of you can honestly tell me that prior to 3:00pm on October 8th
you had a conversation about the location of where I sat to take your minutes causing
confusion. That's when I was informed of your wishes by the superintendent. If you
can't, then clearly my relocation was not a board decision, but one made by the
superintendent on your behalf.
It is my belief that a well functioning school board should have an independent identity.
It is not an outlet or an extension of the opinions and beliefs of the administration it
serves. In the code of ethics you agree to "Retain independent judgment and refuse to
surrender that judgment to individuals or special interest groups." You also agree to
"Accept the responsibility to secure facts before arriving at conclusions." This is an
agreement you promised to abide by when you were elected to represent us. We as a
community expect you to stand firm in your own beliefs for what is right and just and to
not be easily swayed into impromptu decisions that go against those beliefs.
It is my belief that a Vermont NEA affiliation should in no way pose a conflict of interest
to the job anyone does in documenting minutes for this board or any board. The person
who keeps this documentation is merely writing down what happens at a meeting. They
aren't making decisions where they can be swayed by such an affiliation and if their
documentation reflects such a bias, it is within a board's power to have that bias stricken
from the record.
It is my belief that a public meeting is public. It is within the right of any person attending
a public meeting to ask to be heard if they would like to comment on or question an
item. It is within the board's right to decide whether to acknowledge and hear the
speaker. Precedent in Fairfax has been that most who have something to say on a topic
have been given the opportunity and have been heard, including myself.
It is my belief that any long valued employee, regardless of whether they are an at-will
employee or not, should be given the courtesy to be provided with the reasons why their
job was found unsatisfactory and why they are no longer found suitable for their job.
What can be inferred when an employee requests this information but the board is not
at liberty to share it? Does this qualify as transparency?
I remember the board publicly announced transparency as one of its goals. The course
of events that led to my resignation has been very opaque. It needs to be transparent.
In the grand scheme of education at BFA, this is a small and fairly personal issue. It
really only affects me and the job I did taking minutes for the board. However, people
within the school and within the community at large are asking me what happened and I
am at a loss as to what to tell them. Judging by their reactions, I am seeing this is as a
potential public relations disaster for the board and the the supervisory office. They are
shocked that this could happen to me and they are asking the bigger questions.
When we as a community look at the bigger picture, we can only question if this type of
conduct from you and our superintendent is reflective of how other decisions are being
made and followed through. Personally, as a parent, a taxpaying community member,
and an individual who cares deeply for the integrity of our school, that is what really
offends and deeply worries me.
The board chair has assured me that this will be looked into. As a citizen and parent in
this town, I ask you, what will that look like? What procedures will you follow to allow our
community to trust the decisions the board is making? How can you assure this
community that you will not condone inappropriate intimidating behavior on the part of
this superintendent? And how will you make your own conduct transparent enough to
garner our trust?
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: sdogallen on November 13, 2012, 09:10:54 PM
Unbelievable, when is someone going to get a backbone and stand up to the people that are doing wrong in that district. Year after year good people get stepped on and nothing is done about it. I'm glad I don't pay taxes in that town. Julie, it was great working with you in my years at BFA.

                                                                                                 Scott L. Allen
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: Judi on November 13, 2012, 09:19:34 PM
I find it upsetting that none of the board members care to comment.  After what I have read on the forum (which is one sided) I am so sorry Julie that you were disrespected in such a way.
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: Loctavious on November 14, 2012, 07:41:11 AM
Unfortunately, as Julie stated, this behavior isn't new at BFA.  I know of other situations concerning the Superintendent that did certainly deserved attention and comment, and the fact neither occurred, displayed bias and catering to 'special interests' in town.  As I discovered in some of those instances, there's no recourse when decisions have been made.  There's no amount of public condemnation, short of mass demonstration ( we haven't seen in Fairfax, but it seems to work in other schools), that will even garner a response, much less a second look or more indepth consideration.   
I sincerely feel bad for Mrs. Filberti.  I briefly worked with her kids and in my limited interactions with her, I foudn her to be a kind, caring parent and individual.  I do hope folks in Fairfax step up in her defense and uncharacterisitically demand some answers from Mr. Kirsch and the board.  Even if they're not the ones we want, at least we'll have an idea of how to move forward.
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: logical on November 14, 2012, 09:34:00 AM
I agree with Judi.  Would be nice to hear the board's side as well.  With only one side of the story presented to the public I too am of the opinion that Julie was wronged.
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: ohhman on November 14, 2012, 01:38:26 PM
For anyone who knows Julie & for those who don't, she is one of the kindest, most considerate, FAIREST  person whom always does so much for children & all she does is in the best interest of children.  I have known for many years she would attend the board meetings, just to stay informed & to offer any help she could.  I can't believe she has been treated this way!  And as for the decision to make her sit elsewhere, ( I, & many others,have had to ask the board members to SPEAK UP in the past as you can't hear when sitting in the audience), that is just absurd!! She wouldn't be able to record the excellent notes as she does as she would NOT be able to hear!

 Some time ago there was an issue on a high school student rep's "body language"  at the meetings that was brought up at a meeting, well as a parent & taxpayer, I spoke up at this past meeting, (cleanliness in our kitchen- or lack of), & awhile ago, (in support of the buses), let me just say our superintendent also needs to be aware of his body language as public comments are given & those from anyone else that may go against his way of thinking.
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: Julie & 6pt Dave on November 14, 2012, 09:59:27 PM
Thanks for the kind words everyone. I appreciate them!
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: mirjo on November 17, 2012, 06:49:08 PM
Unfortunately, it seems the supervisory union has taken over BFA and not necessarily in a good way. Whatever has transpired between the board and SU (and now Julie) appears very questionable. Try to get a straight answer about a budget item or anything else and it's akin to going to the circus: mayhem & distractions.
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: AbbeyC on November 20, 2012, 02:48:47 PM
This is the link to watch the school board meeting via internet. One school borad member apoligizes to Julie for having no knowledge of her seat change. Listen to Julies letter followed by another community members letter.

Fairfax School Board | LCATV - Lake Champlain Access Television
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: roadkill on November 22, 2012, 07:54:34 AM
bullying and harassment are seen as acceptable ways of silencing anyone who dares to speak up for themselves, stand for their convictions or question their trearment. Very well said Julie. You definitely were not the first and you definitely wont be the last. Its sad to see you go but Im proud of you for taking the same step I did.  You will be much happier not having to deal with these people anymore.    Gary Stewart
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: nhibbard on November 22, 2012, 11:03:54 PM
After reading this I'd agree that it seems like a problem, but what would need to be done to correct the issue? Aside from the very clear disrespect shown to Julie in this issue, are there other documented issues that people could provide so I could understand the issue. I'm familiar with minutes at board meetings, as I took them for years where I work, and I'm not aware that anyone was ever confused about the position of the person taking minutes. All the Boards I've ever seen have been very kind to the person taking minutes since they spend all those extra hours together consistently for long periods of time.
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: red on November 24, 2012, 09:32:23 AM
Thank you Julie for all your hard work.
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: Loctavious on November 26, 2012, 10:44:05 AM
Other documented issues?  How would they be documented I ask - as the administration considers issues with Employees confidential - they'll never release any information as they hide behind that confidentiality claim.  I'm sure there are MANY incidents over the years, especially with Mr. Kirsch.  I personally know of a few where decisions were made based on the comments/opinions of a few local parents that some how became the embodiment of how the whole commuity felt and the board, made employment decisions based on the opinions of those few parents.  Funny though, any other offering differing opinions of the issue were told it was a confidential issue and they couldn't talk about it.  see how this works yet.  I do believe there's a term for this pattern of behavior - it's called 'good ole boy network'.  I've been told by other folks in town that they have had similar 'run-ins' and have had no recourse either that 'it's the politics of a small town'.  I say that's b.s.  This sort of crap should've went out of style along with mullets and lamb chop sideburns........ but alas here we are.
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: sdogallen on November 26, 2012, 05:28:12 PM
You've nailed it right on the head Loctavious. Very well put.
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: nhibbard on November 28, 2012, 10:16:32 PM
Documented by copies of formal written complaints or notes on meetings. If someone has an issue, why not file formal written complaints documenting the issue. Make a copy of the complaint and post it for everyone to see. I'm new to the issue so it's hard for me to see what the specifics are. I understand the mentality and have heard of some issues first hand with specific requests for classroom assignments ignored after they were supposedly honored. Then the school said they could do nothing to fulfill the arrangement and claimed to have just overlooked their emails.

Are the school board meetings recorded for public access like in other towns?
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: Loctavious on November 29, 2012, 10:44:58 AM
Yes - they actually posted a link here to the meeting in which certain board members apolgized to Julie and stated they weren't aware of the request for her to move away from the table..... but when one goes to play the minutes of the meeting from the site it's housed on - an error message regarding the server not being found pops up.
If the claim of someone apolgizing from the baord is true, then it begs the question - WHO actually was behind the request for her to be moved away from the table?

As for written complaints, i ask again - where do you think these would be kept and how would obtain them?  I'm not trying to be difficult, I see your point that a public entities minutes and records should be available to the public. 
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: AbbeyC on November 29, 2012, 03:49:49 PM
The minutes from the board meeting are posted on fwsu website however you can watch the video via internet. Go to the link that was listed once on click on meetings in top left then fairfax it is the first one just viewed it again myself it is working.
I believe we as a communtiy we need to take a stand and tell our board we will not accept the fact that Mr. Kirsch is making all the decisions. It is time to act just like BFA St Albans is doing and vote for NO confidence in Mr. Kirsch.
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: nhibbard on November 29, 2012, 07:28:29 PM
Loctavious, those who filed a complaint might have made a copy. Thanks for pointing out the link. I tried to watch on my iPad but it didn't work. I'll look again later on a computer. I think all boards should do video now. Minutes exclude so much conversation and get edited. Though they are longer, video is a much better record at minimal cost.
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: Connie on December 05, 2012, 11:29:46 AM
I agree that a vote of no confidence is the appropriate next step; both for the superintendent and the school board chair.  The balance of power between the two of them is dysfunctional and continues to affect the morale in the building and the community.  Time to move on.   
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: Julie & 6pt Dave on December 10, 2012, 10:37:51 AM
I was hoping I would get a little more than this, but this is the written response I received in response to my comments at the last meeting. I know many of you were hoping to hear the Boards perspective on what happened so I felt it was appropriate to post their response to my public comment. It sounds as if we're left to just trust that they are making independent wise decisions. And for the record, I was not unwilling to meet with the superintendent and board chair to discuss this. The board chair was unwilling to be part of this meeting. She felt the superintendent "is directly responsible for the daily oversight of our school which does include communication and coordination with the school board." I was demanded to attend a meeting with the superintendent (without the board chair) on a day and time that I had previously told Mr. Kirsch (twice) that I was unable to attend. I was told failure to be there would be an indication of my intent to resign. Am I wrong to feel harassed? Am I wrong in feeling I deserve more of an explanation from the board?

I did respond to you in a very timely fashion.  Our meeting was on Monday, November 14th and I responded to you the next day.  Here was my response.
I want to thank you again for sharing your thoughts with the board and the public at our meeting on Monday.  We did discuss this situation in executive session.  Though our conversation is protected information since it was in executive session, I can assure you that your concerns were addressed with thoughtful deliberation.  If you feel your allegations of bullying and harassment merit a complaint, I would ask that you review our policy on Harassment of Personnel (you can find this in the policy section on the FWSU website).
You are correct that 16 V.S.A. #554 allows for a written response as to the reasons an action was taken by the board.  No action was taken by the board.  You chose to resign rather than meet with the superintendent and myself to discuss the issue as was suggested.  As I stated in my original email, your questions as to how we as a board work with the superintendent were addressed in executive session.  After lengthy discussion and thoughtful deliberation we are committed to continuing our collaborative work with the supervisory union, our superintendent and administrative team.  
We are grateful to involvment from our community as we continue to move forward with the challenge of balancing the needs of our school, students and community.
Elaine Carpenter
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: Loctavious on December 10, 2012, 12:18:51 PM
Crafty maneuver there to hold an executive session so as to AGAIN - be able to hide the actual interworkings of thought, any possible bias and questionable logic and/or rationalizations.  Unfortunately - the logic and dominating rationale as to why this can happen, is that at some point, we as a community elected those who will perpetuate the culture. 
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: Barbara on December 10, 2012, 01:48:24 PM
I have been a school board member in years past. 
Board members are glorified volunteers, the remuneration we received was never enough to even cover childcare or mileage costs, but it is a job someone needs to do.  The paid employees, ie superintendent and principals, are the experts to be relied upon for information and guidance in the normal course of events.  It is the task of the school board of the supervisory union to evaluate the work of the Superintendent and should the member school board feel there is a disconnect between the actions being advised and the will of their school community this should be reflected in such an evaluation. 
I am saddened to hear of several poorly handled personnel issues that have left a real sense of unhappiness for our school professionals.  Many of the individuals I came to know and love during my children's years in the BFA school system have finished their teaching careers and moved on but it would be a great tragedy for Fairfax if the few that are left felt obliged to move on due to a spirit of disrespect. 
The school is the largest "business" in town, but it is not a business, it is our beloved BFA and we need to ask how each of us can volunteer our time and talents to make sure all members of our school community are treated as treasured members and not replaceable cogs, widgets or product.
Respectfully, Barbara Smith Murphy
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: nhibbard on December 10, 2012, 05:25:46 PM
Crafty maneuver there to hold an executive session so as to AGAIN - be able to hide the actual interworkings of thought, any possible bias and questionable logic and/or rationalizations.  Unfortunately - the logic and dominating rationale as to why this can happen, is that at some point, we as a community elected those who will perpetuate the culture. 

This is a problem with Executive Sessions. They are designed to protect employees, towns and boards legally but it obscures what really happened. This being an employee issue as far as they probably saw it, it was appropriate. I agree with Loctavious, unless you want to perpetuate it, seek different leadership, but you'll still always have these sessions that on the surface leave questions about what really happened.
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: mirjo on December 12, 2012, 02:48:16 PM
This is a problem with Executive Sessions. They are designed to protect employees, towns and boards legally but it obscures what really happened.

If  boards and what they represent  are public entities and matters discussed are open to the public, I don't understand  executive sessions exist--it seems the boards decide for themselves when to go into "executive discussion," which does nothing for transparency in public matters. I also don't understand the legality issue--if someone could elaborate, it would be appreciated! Thanks.
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: nhibbard on December 12, 2012, 10:34:18 PM
Here is the State law.


Most employment issues usually go to Executive Session.
Title: Re: Thank you Julie
Post by: mirjo on December 14, 2012, 02:44:51 PM
Thank you nhibbard, official info is always helpful and appreciated!