The Grandview school board voted to place Jessie Truett into the president position at the January 2017 organizational meeting. This is a completely nonsensical move from a board that should be avoiding controversy while they gear up for requesting the community to build new schools.
Truett is the most controversial member of the board, due to his resignation from his job as the high school principal back in 2011. The short version – Truett suddenly resigned with a weak explanation about personal and health reasons, later it came out that he started an affair with an 18 year old student while he was a 23 year old teacher at Westerville. State law says that sexual conduct with a student, regardless of the student’s age, is considered sexual battery, and could lead to jail time. Truett voluntarily surrendered his teaching license to the state board of education.
Mr Truett now works for OAPCS, promoting charter schools. Ohio had many scandals involving charter schools, some observers think that the top reason that Kasich failed his run for president was the constant news of fraud and failure from Ohio charter schools. Truett’s job is to push for more charter schools, and weaken public schools.
Watch Truett in action at a board meeting
What will it be like with Jessie Truett in charge of the school board? We have a video that allows us to see direct evidence of how he will conduct the business of the school, and how he will respond to comments from the community, All of the links in the following take you directly to the section of the video being discussed.
Truett’s hack job on HPG
Truett gave the public reasoning for the break with HPG at this meeting. He gave a couple that made no sense – why would HPG have been keeping documents “away from the public in a secret file cabinet”, when it isn’t his job to provide them to anyone other than his employer? What kind of nonsense is the “creating specific options” complaint, if that wasn’t wanted, why wasn’t it specified in the contract with HPG?
I linked to the section of the video where Truett talks about the real reason for the break with HPG. Truett says that he had to insist that HPG not use subcontractors who might bid on the work at some point in the future, and that when informed about this requirement, HPG “took it personally, attacked members of the board and the task force in an unprofessional way, and said he didn’t want to continue working with us”.
Why would HPG have done that? HPG had no reputation for being unprofessional when the board selected him to do the work (and if he did, why would the board have hired him?). I’m thinking that Truett gave a fanciful version of what happened, one that omitted the insults and unprofessional behavior that Truett used to push HPG into the unprecedented position of ending a consultation job mid contract. I think HPG could have found subcontract firms to do the work, but was being jerked around by Truett on this and other points to the extent that he had to leave.
Truett didn’t have to speak about Kevin Harrison in the insulting way he did, he could have simply mentioned the points they disagreed on, and that the best outcome was to end the relationship. Instead, he tore into Harrison, in a way that suggested to me that he wanted to personally humiliate the man. I have not read anything from the task force that backs up Truett. I think Truett is lying to the community, and that the bad ending with HPG is mostly because of the way Truett acted.
Truett’s reaction to criticism
A member of the community commented on the way the special morning meeting had been scheduled with little notice, and on the same day the board was holding a full evening meeting. He was critical of how this morning meeting was going to be perceived (correctly) as the board hiding information from the public.
This was followed by the most uncomfortable 10 seconds of silence in the history of the board.
Truett then started talking about decorum, and how he didn’t want to get into a debate over board actions. You could see the anger building in Truett as he sat and listened to the criticism. His later “thanks for the comment” was insincere. I don’t think anyone will be welcomed to speak the truth in front of the board in the future.
Other observations, and the weird hacking fit
Since I was required to closely watch that video again, I have to comment on the other board members.
Grant Douglass seemed to have been struck down with the inability to speak. I think the fact that he was staring directly into the camera caused that. Melissa Palmisciano had the most intelligent questions, and was welcoming of comments from the community. The board missed an obvious good move in making her the president. Evans contributed “I was just. .. I just think … we will be in an OK position, right? Not ideal, but Ok, right?” Did we elect a child to the board?
What was that weird coughing fit that Truett had at 3m, 50s? If he had a cold I could understand, but he didn’t act like he was sick at any other part of the video. Maybe the stress of lying to the public caused him to have a fit?
Too late to complain to the board about the decision to make Truett president, we now will have to deal with our own mini-Trump for at least the next year.
Politics Trumps everything
Why did the school board members vote Jessie Truett to the president spot, when it was so clear that he is going to be a liability? The answer is simple – he is up for re-election this year. The board has some history of electing members who will face the voters to the top spots on the board, so they can present the impression that they are valuable members of the board. Evans is also up for re-election, and was voted vice-pres.
Kind of sad that the board thought helping Truett get re-elected was more important than being non-controversial to help with facilities process, but politics is what they do.