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Board OKs operating agreements

Forest Grove panel approves policy that 'allows us to work as a team,' chair says

Chair Alisa Hampton called on her colleagues to break through 'trust issues' as a Forest Grove School Board work session got under way Monday evening.

Later that night they took her plea to heart, unanimously approving a set of operating agreements that had polarized the panel two weeks earlier.

Even newcomer Kate Grandusky, who identified herself as 'the elephant in the room' because of her support for a recall effort aimed at fellow board members Terry Howell and Anna Tavera-Weller, voted yes after hashing through details of the communications policy for an hour and a half.

After stumbling on directives requiring board members to 'publicly support decisions of the majority,' write columns, vetted by the district, for the newspaper and 'refrain from ... embarrassing other board members, administrators, staff members or the audience,' board members carefully pruned the document to limit potential freedom of speech infringements and make it palatable to Grandusky and to Fred Marble, who also had bristled at its language during a meeting in early September.

'What we're looking at here is, how does the board make sure it's being effective instead of getting in the way' of school district business, said Hampton, who steered the policy-making body toward revised agreements between its members and Superintendent Yvonne Curtis.

Grandusky, who complained at the start of the meeting that the document was 'confining and restricting,' relented after the board framed an opening paragraph focusing on the board's intention to make things better for students and staff. 'That would be more appropriate for me,' said Grandusky.

Howell said the policy would 'help avoid dysfunction in the group' by laying down 'ground rules for how we communicate with each other.'