The organizer of a petition seeking the evaluation of Blaine County School District Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes has walked back her request for a special meeting with the board of trustees as opponents of district leadership explore alternatives for airing grievances against the administration.
Now backed by more than 1,100 online signatures, Ketchum resident Barbara Browning asked for a closed-door meeting with the trustees to present the names on the petition—and make the case for firing Holmes—during and immediately following the school board’s regular meeting on June 11. Her petition, which was launched during a “crisis meeting” called to voice criticism toward district leadership on June 3, aims to fire Holmes with cause prior to the start of the next school year, citing a “waste of taxpayer dollars” on legal fees, “consolidation of power,” “ignoring the community” and “questionable ethics.”
Its immediate goal: a vote, with each trustee publicly supporting or opposing the superintendent.
“Each one of you should be on the record, expressing confidence or no confidence in our superintendent,” Browning told the trustees on June 11. “It is the community members who are speaking. Are you listening?”
But on Monday, Browning told the Idaho Mountain Express that she plans to explore “other possibilities” rather than take the steps outlined by interim Chairwoman Ellen Mandeville in an email to Browning last week. Browning would not elaborate on what those plans might entail, but she has previously stated that she “seriously doubt[s]” she’d accept Mandeville’s “terms” for a meeting—particularly that the board, rather than the petitioners, would decide whom to allow into the executive session.
“That’s all there is for now,” Browning said.
No special meeting of the board of trustees has been scheduled. Such a meeting can be called at the request of the chairwoman or any two trustees.
Last Wednesday, Mandeville delineated a three-step “chain of command” for formal complaints against district staff, which is governed by Policy 222 of school bylaws, according to an email Browning provided to the Express.
As stated in that policy, she recommended—but didn’t require—first taking up the allegations and evidence with the accused party, Holmes herself. After that, she said Browning should file a written grievance under the policy, including the names of those filing the claim, specific allegations and accompanying evidence and potential remedies. Finally, Holmes would have a chance to make a written rebuttal to Browning’s claims.
“Although I have not granted the details of your request, I do hope you will follow the above steps with your grievance so that it can be officially taken up under BCSD Policy 222,” Mandeville wrote. “It is my intent for the BCSD Board of Trustees to consider all reasonable requests for grievance reviews from patrons.”