Secrecy is poison in politics.

The Blaine County School District board of trustees poisoned public school politics when it went into closed session last week to debate actions of Chairman Rob Clayton with which some members disagreed.

After hours behind closed doors, the five-member board emerged and voted 3-2 to censure Clayton and to strip him of his position as chairman for unspecified “ethical violations.” It refused to say more.

The board’s refusal to detail the reasons for its actions left the public in the dark, where rumors, speculation and misinformed politics thrive like black mold.

Closed sessions of public boards are optional, not required, under the Idaho Open Meeting Law, even for matters the law allows to be considered in this way.

Board members are elected officials. As such, they are obligated to discuss matters involving our public schools in front of the public that elected them to serve.

To act as though secrecy serves the public, or somehow protects individuals, is the height of folly.

Deliberating and voting in secret are a lot easier than doing so in front of a room filled with patrons, on a live and archived video stream or in front of a reporter whose job it is to tell the rest of Blaine County what happened.

The so-called “ethical violations” referenced by the board sound more onerous than they really are if the board was referring to its own document titled “Code of Ethics,” which is really a list of board governance standards and procedures.

Cowardly anonymous attacks on social media have stung the board. It added its own insult to that injury with this inexcusable closed-door attack.

To do its job well, the board must get out of the back room and face the public it serves.

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