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School board works on trust
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Wednesday, 23 February 2011 00:00

The Camp Verde Unified School District Governing Board held a special meeting Friday, Feb. 18, to work through some issues of trust and communication.

Camp Verde Unified School District Superintendent Dan BrownTwo board members in particular, Helen Freeman and Judy Gilbert, expressed concerns over their relationship with district Superintendent Dan Brown.

Freeman was disturbed by a portion of a phone call she overheard between Brown and board President Tim Roth. Freeman was already concerned board members weren’t all getting the same information from Brown about issues that come up before the board, and had started to foment a lack of trust. To that end, Freeman started conducting all communication with Brown via e-mail.

Freeman was in the district office when she overheard Brown speak about the possibility of recalling her from office.

Roth said he had talked to Brown and the superintendent was just frustrated with the relationship and the perceived lack of trust.

Brown said he had talked to several people seeking advice on how to improve communication issues, and the suggestion of recall was a measure of “last resort.”

Gilbert was concerned over an incident where Brown apparently raised his voice at her.

Brown admitted as much, but said his tone came when Gilbert mentioned rumors that District Director of Operations Chris Schultz was really the person running the district.

“Her comment hit a nerve,” Brown said. “I was frustrated and hurt.”

Brown said he has nothing but respect for Schultz, but in the end, he has the final say when it comes to what goes on in day-to-day district operations. He practices a collaborative leadership style, but that shouldn’t be mistaken for anything but what it is. Brown questioned how trust and communication could be effectively fostered in an environment he sees as all too often tainted by a lack of respect.

Freeman said she still felt like Brown’s conversation was inappropriate, especially during a school business day. The board needed to improve on how it follows through with its expectations of what they want from both themselves and their employees.

In the end, Freeman said it boiled down to different perceptions of how things were being handled based on who one talked to.

New board member Trent Hackett attempted a bit of mediation, pointing out many of these issues could likely be better addressed on an individual face-to-face basis.

Roth said there were obvious problems that everyone could work on.

“Some board meetings I see we’re not always respectful,” Roth said. “Not just to the administration but the people who come to present things to us .... We just have to hold each other more accountable.”

 

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