By Scott Tibbs, May 10, 2004
----Original Message Follows----
From: Scott Tibbs <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Subject: Greater respect for taxpayers needed
Date: Mon, 10 May 2004 19:23:26 -0700 (PDT)
To the members of the MCCSC School Board:
As a taxpayer and voter in the area represented by the Monroe County Community School Corporation, I am deeply disturbed by the behavior of MCCSC at a meeting on issues involving teen sex and the growing number of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and sex acts among middle and high school students.
The school corporation advertised a public meeting on government property in the May 6th Herald-Times. But when adults from the community attempted to sit in, observe, and videotape the meeting (to get a record of what was presented to the children) they were told that no adults would be allowed into the meeting.
If this meeting were held at Planned Parenthood's facility on South College, they would have every right to exclude people other than parents (or the parents designated representatives) from their private property. However, this meeting was organized by a government entity and advertised as a public meeting. MCCSC does not have the right to exclude members of the public from this meeting.
One organizer asked a friend of mine, "are you a parent?" That is an irrelevant and insulting question. Whether someone is a parent is irrelevant to whether or not he or she should be allowed to sit in on the meeting. These people were taxpayers and voters and had just as much right to sit in on a public meeting as a parent.
My question is, what is MCCSC afraid of? Why is MCCSC afraid of taxpaying citizens having access to an open meeting?
Some have explained that if adults were in the room, it would "shut the kids down" and they would not speak openly. I find it highly ironic that this excuse would be used considering the expressed purpose of the meeting was to promote communications between parents and children.
I also find this attitude to be arrogant, assuming that the local government school system knows better how to raise children than not only the taxpayers that pay for it, but also the parents of those children. I hope the School Board does not share this disdain for parents and other taxpayers.
My initial reaction was that MCCSC was in violation of Indiana's Open Door Law in not allowing members of the public access to this forum. I may have been mistaken, as the statute specifically covers official actions taken by elected bodies such as yourselves. However, school officials were certainly in violation of the spirit of the law. The purpose statement for Indiana Code 5-14-1.5 states:
It is the intent of this chapter that the official action of public agencies be conducted and taken openly, unless otherwise expressly provided by statute, in order that the people may be fully informed.
This meeting was, by any reasonable interpretation, an "official action" of the school corporation. It was a meeting advertised to the public for the purposes of informing parents and students.
Finally, I urge you to reconsider MCCSC's relationship with Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood's profit margin (the national organization reported spending $12.2 million, $38.9 million, and $59.5 million less than it took in over a period of three fiscal years) comes from sexual activity. Planned Parenthood's sale of birth control and abortions depends on teen sexual activity. Just as you would not bring in Phillip Morris to run an anti-smoking workshop, you should not bring in Planned Parenthood for a workshop on reducing teen sex and STD's.
This November, several School Board seats will be up for the voters to choose who will sit on the School Board. I hope that voters will remember the disrespect shown to taxpayers on Thursday night.