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Custodial supervisor David Jacobson changes the reader board to welcome back “all students” at Bend’s Juniper Elementary.

The Bend-La Pine School Board meets Tuesday and on the agenda .... well, we haven’t seen the agenda yet. But we wouldn’t be surprised if there was more to come of what we have seen lately.

A crowd displeased. An argumentative crowd. A crowd that interrupts when others speak.

That’s happened in the past on some contentious issues. Lately it has been the rule, not the exception. Disagreements over masking rules and concern about curriculum seem to have driven most of it. But there are other things, as well.

The Bulletin’s community editorial board spoke recently with school board Chair Melissa Barnes Dholakia about what the school board might do.

It has already created school board listening sessions. A few members of the board will meet with the public and allow them to air their views. That is new. And it’s a good change. The time during board meetings for public comment is limited. Not everyone who wants to speak can get a chance. And sometimes people don’t want to just send an email. They want to speak. They want to see the reaction when they do.

Dholakia said nothing has been decided yet but another thing other districts do is to spread the opportunity for public comment around. In other words, if a person has spoken at a recent board meeting, he or she might be given a lower priority to speak at the next one, if someone who has not spoken recently signed up to speak. Another option would be to give priority to people who live in the district or whose children attend the district’s schools. We repeat: Those changes have not been adopted for Bend-La Pine. They are just ideas. And they wouldn’t eliminate the opportunity for people to email the school board, in any case.

Dholakia can get 100-200 emails a week. She responds to them all, or at least tries to. The district also recently put in an auto-responder, so people do know their email was received. With some people, Dholakia has offered to meet with them in person and take a walk and talk or get coffee. That is about as open a school board chair as we could ask for.

The problem is people may find a way to speak their mind and they may still feel like they are not being heard. The new school board is not in agreement on every issue — as we saw recently on the divided vote on its reopening plan. But the board can seem like it uniformly represents a more liberal outlook on the issues it confronts. People who wish for a more conservative approach can feel like they don’t have a voice on the board and their comments fall on deaf ears.

You don’t have to go back more than a handful of years to when there certainly seemed a more politically diverse board. But this is the school board that voters chose. They do have to lead for the whole district. They should make an effort to truly listen to the views of all those they represent without being patronizing. But this is the board voters chose.

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(14) comments

MF

After viewing how the more conservative audience members share their views, perhaps they would be more successful if they moderated their behavior to be more respectful. They yelled, spoke out of turn, engaged in name calling and in some cases, bullying. They were not the role models we want for our kids. It’s no wonder LaGrande temporarily left the room.

LibGravy

Yep. Just like Black Lives Matter. If LeGrande cannot take the heat, maybe he is in over his head.

BuckeyeDuck

Maybe you should help our local society by trying to get elected for one of the the seats on the board. Let us know your name so we can look forward to seeing what you have to say at the various Q&A forums pre election. Oh wait, you'll probably follow the lead of the four losers who chickened out during the last election. They couldn't stand the heat pre election

LibGravy

What’s with "all the name calling? I thought you libs were “tolerant” and “inclusive”. ;) BTW, with your handle, I assume this is a big weekend for you. Go Ducks!

MF

Let me rephrase your comment. “If LaGrande doesn’t agree to be bullied he should resign”.

Transitory Inflation

'People who wish for a more conservative approach can feel like they don’t have a voice on the board and their comments fall on deaf ears.'

They do not have a voice on the board because they can't garner more than what, ~23% of the vote?! Not going to have an enjoyable time of it with that level of mind share I would think.

LibGravy

The act that the school board members did not include “Mandatory Masking for All Students” in their campaign platforms and the fact that they did not include a clear and accurate description of the major tenants of Critical Race Theory and their intention to support these tenants as school board members (the two topics that parents are most upset about) renders your argument invalid.

BuckeyeDuck

Well, CRT hasn't been and isn't part of the curriculum in Bend Lapine district. Only parents who like to use that catchphrase instead of actually research what's happening are upset (and possibly racist, but who knows). Nice try. Running on a specific like mandatory masks? Really?

LibGravy

I wrote that the school board members did not inform the parents they intended to support the tenants of CRT: inter sectionalism, equity, whiteness, white oppression, interest convergence, anti racism, etc., all of which are taught at Bend La Pine schools and are taught as fact. The school systems that teach these tenants of CRT get a pass on these dangerous and untrue principles being taught as truth, by repeating another untruth: that they are not teaching CRT. If your four legged animal with a tail barks like a dog, runs like a dog, smells like a dog, and eats like a dog, it is probably a dog.

Transitory Inflation

EDIT: More like ~32% of the vote. I regret the error, and was not intentionally understating the wingnut's ability to attract votes in the district.

BuckeyeDuck

Well based on the results of the four races, the " wingnuts" message didn't resonate very well with the electorate. I believe an argument made was that there were not enough people voting because it was a midterm election. That's the reason the gang of four lost. In other words, "we were treated unfairly...". First it's too many voters (trump), now it's not enough

Transitory Inflation

Yeah, you can't just let a couple decades of abysmal election results move you off a minority view of what voters want in Oregon. Gotta keep the fever dream alive somehow BD!

LibGravy

Geez. More name calling. You libs are supposed to be inclusive and tolerant. Can’t you be civil?

BuckeyeDuck

Bwahahahaha, "what's with all the name calling", says the "pot". Gonna be a tough day for the Ducks if they show up like last week. On the other hand, I'd like to think their play was meant to lull the Buckeyes into a false sense of security....

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