Colton School Board Member resigns, citing differences in views
Colton School Board Member Brad Kuhn resigned, effective immediately, at Monday's regular meeting after serving just more than four months. His resignation comes following a discussion at last month's board meeting regarding the fact that he was told to fill out a public records request and pay a fee for information that he thought should be available to him.
Kuhn won the board position in the May 2017 election. His 4-year term began July 1, 2017 and was set to expire June 30, 2021.
"Over the last few months it's become clear to me that the concerns I have about this organization and my approach to addressing them are very different than the other members of this board," Kuhn said at the meeting. "This point was made clear at our last regular board meeting during the discussion related to board members being required to submit a public records request to review basic information regarding the operation of the district, and the fact that four other board members fully supported this position."
At the previous month's regular board meeting, Kuhn said that he wanted to see documents such as pending litigation, district goal worksheet, superintendent goals, how people are evaluated and a copy of the latest financial audits and findings, according to the October meeting summary in the November agenda packet.
Kuhn clarified to the Pioneer that he received the above items, but he was told to put in a public records request at a fee of $45 an hour plus attorney fees to obtain any further information. At the October meeting, Kuhn asked the board members if they were aware of that and if they support it, per the meeting summary.
During the discussion that followed, per the summary, Board Chair Tim Behrens noted that requests are treated differently when they pertain to official board business versus when they are personal in nature. Superintendent Koreen Barreras-Brown expressed concern over discussing the issue at that time, per the summary.
Kuhn said that he wanted to add, as an agenda item for the next board meeting, extended discussion on the topic, according to the summary. Behrens responded that making it an agenda item would require the support of 3 out of 5 board members. Barreras-Brown announced that that meeting would require the presence of an attorney.
After discussion, Kuhn said, "Now I know how everyone stands on it," according to the meeting summary.
The topic was not on the November agenda. The agenda did include discussion about the process of board members speaking to the media and the board member resignation.
"I want to be clear that on a personal level I believe all the board members are good people with good intentions, and I even consider some close friends," Kuhn said in his resignation. "But as it relates to dealing with the problems and need for transparency in this district, we view things very differently."
He added, "I may choose to run again at the next election if it looks like the makeup of the board will be changing substantially and a different approach is possible, but at this time my raising concerns about the organization is unlikely to lead to any actual change, and it will certainly distract from the immediate task of focusing on educating the students who are not currently meeting the state standards."
Throughout the course of the rest of the meeting, all board members and Barreras-Brown thanked Kuhn for his service. But Irving responded pointedly to Kuhn's announcement.
"I can only speak for myself right now. There have been several times I've wanted to not be on this board because things are difficult," Irving said. "So, I appreciate where you're coming from. And I appreciate that you can separate your personal things from the school and know that that is a line you can't cross right now."
Barreras-Brown responded to the resignation in an email.
"I respect his decision because it is hard work to be a board member," Barreras-Brown said in the email. "Our board dedicates a great deal of time and energy to the Colton community and are not always appreciated. However, our board is always working in the best interest of students and respect multiple perspectives in the decision-making process. I thank Brad for his service and wish him the best."
The board will follow policy and appoint a district resident to fill the position until the next election. The board decided to solidify an interview process for selecting a new board member at their next work session.