GV School Board Trustee Janell Ward, center, looks pensive during what she privately knew was to be her final meeting.
Janell Ward was the last Garden Valley School Board trustee on the list for the process of recall, set into motion over two years ago by people who call themselves the Friends of the Garden Valley School District. This list, and the threat of recall, was given to then Chair of the Board of Trustees, Marlo Glauser, as reparation for the loss of Superintendent Stan Kress.
Glauser resigned from the board in June, 2009. The first trustee made to endure public humiliation, lies and slander, by this group of tormentors, was Chair of the Board Elizabeth Dunn. She lost the recall election by two votes and many thought it was because the community simply didn't believe this sort of thing could happen here.
Current Chair Terry Elmore was then put to trial, with the same degree of slander and lies, but she was ready for them and took to the streets to maintain her position as trustee. She prevailed.
Meanwhile, the Fiends were (and still are) at the throat of Superintendent Mike Tomlin, because he is the protector of Business and Human Resource Manager and Clerk of the Board of Trustees, Paula Fox, who became the target of the group, which was obsessed with avenging her exposure of Kress's bad financial management.
As things got really hairy, Board Trustee Pete Wier resigned, citing family concerns.
When the Board of Trustees began to search for new, acceptable trustees, it became a polarization between the good guys and the bad guys, depending on whether you were an avenger or defender. Jeff Bass came on as a good guy for the defenders, but he has already made a public declaration of his intent to ride out his term and that's it. Alan Ward came on as a (bad? good?) guy for the avengers and it has been distressing for some onlookers to observe his active participation in the process to recall his sister-in-law, Janell Ward.
At the July 19, 2010, school board meeting, Mr. Ward (shown being sworn in) was among the applicants who vied for the position of trustee for Zone V. When asked if he could accept the decisions of the board, he replied, "The worst thing you can do is to continue to oppose the decisions that have been made." Janell Ward posed the question to them, "Do you feel you can be a team player--deal with the community, four board members, a clerk and a principal?" Mr. Ward assured her with his response: "It's probably the best of why I'm here. I've done this before and had good success. You bet!"
Shelly Overlie has been the driving force behind the petition for Janell Ward's recall. In her possession is an affidavit which she says she has used to gain signatures on the petition. The person who gave her the affidavit wrote that Mrs. Ward shared a confidential personnel matter with the accuser. This accuser has remained nameless, even to Mrs. Ward, in a GV School era where public accusations have been tossed about left and right and accusers have put themselves or others on the line.
So why the secrecy? Why be willing to accuse a public person whom you believe to have broken the law and not identify yourself? Perhaps this person is not quite so innocent herself and has perhaps already dishonored herself in the eyes of the school. We can only surmise who might be willing to give the Fiends a hand in their ousting of the final board member who sat on the board during the demise of Kress. Even more to the point is that it absolutely must be remembered, in the name of justice, that an affidavit is not a statement of proven fact, but a statement sworn to be true.
We will probably never know the answers to these questions. Janell Ward has let the school off the hook, thereby saving the money which would have been wasted on another (3rd) recall election. She attended her last board meeting as Trustee for Zone III last evening, December 13, and when the board returned from executive session, the letter Ward had left with the board was read in public by Attorney Amy White:
School Board Trustees,
I have served faithfully on the school board for two and a half years, and have enjoyed helping the children of our school district. I have, during my service, been accused of having a personal agenda as a Trustee. That is true. I have made it my personal agenda to ensure the Lowman School remains open and well-staffed. I have also made it my personal agenda to ensure our students with special needs receive the services they deserve and that are required by law.
I have also been falsely accused, by individuals with their own personal agenda, of leaking confidential personnel information from school board "executive sessions", which is not true. In fact, secret and threatening letters were read to me over the phone by Alan Ward while I vacationed with my family in Florida. These letters contained false accusations and apparently were an attempt to "Blackmail" me into resigning IMMEDIATELY from the school board.
When I refused to resign, individuals continued to spread untrue stories and false accusations about my character in an effort to remove me from the school board, leading up to the election planned for tomorrow. There need be no election.
During my last visit to Virginia Mason Hospital, I consulted with both my cardiologist and my cancer doctor about the stress I was feeling from being a school board trustee. They both strongly recommended that I resign, as it is affecting my health. Given the current situation, I no longer have it in me to serve on a board with a trustee who has shown such unethical and I believe, unlawful behavior. It is especially stressful, as the trustee is a member of my family.
So I, Janell Ward, resign from my position as Zone III Trustee, effective immediately.
The position of School Board Trustee is an important and time-consuming job. As volunteers, these community members must receive continuing education in many different facets of running a school; from learning the role of trustee, through school finance, ethics, health and healthcare reform, migrant education and many other subjects, not to mention policy studying and making, dealing with constituent concerns and attending demanding regular and special meetings, this is not a job for sissies.
If a person is willing to spend the time and effort to not only campaign publicly for (currently, in this town) a thankless volunteer job and then spend the amount of hours necessary to do the job, we could at least give them the support they need to do the thankless job. Too many observers on the sidelines forget that these folks put themelves out there to try very hard to make the right decisions.
What has happened the past year in this school community is indeed a travesty. It seems the saga will continue until misguided retaliation is deemed complete. Agendas are fine, as long as they do not hurt anyone; but, some on the school board the past year have been damaging. I wish the new board wisdom and insight, for they surely need it right now.
Thank you Janell, for your time and conscientiousness in helping the kids. Yes, the kids--again. When will we ever remember this is all in the name of educating our community's young?