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WILLIAMSVILLE BOARD MEMBERS BETRAYED TRUST

I would like to comment on the editorial "Gag rule has no place in a democracy," which states that some rights of members of the Williamsville School Board are being infringed upon.

These board members were not "gagged." They were reminded that long-standing board policy designates the board president and the superintendent as the official spokespersons for the board and district when dealing with the press.

These four members agreed to uphold this policy with other members in July. They violated this policy by discussing their town meeting with the media.

How can citizens trust elected officials who agree to policies only to disregard them whenever it suits them? Of course they can speak as individuals, but they have no right to speak as a board representative without the consent of the entire board.

This entire mess came about when one of the four arranged for a meeting with town officials concerning the St. Mary of the Angels Motherhouse. He represented himself as a concerned citizen and taxpayer-group member. He arrived with the other three members and produced a list of possible uses he wanted discussed. When it was pointed out that these members were in effect discussing board issues, they denied the connection and claimed they were just citizens -- hence Dr. Eugene Steinberg's comments about a skunk being a skunk no matter what you tried to call it.

Of special concern is that other board members and district officials were not informed of this meeting before it occurred or at a meeting the next day. Their desire to keep the meeting secret certainly raises suspicions about motives.

School board issues should be discussed openly at board meetings where all members can take an active part in information-sharing and problem-solving. Board meetings are always open to the public, so that we as community members can become informed and form our own opinions based on fact.

Joanne Smith Getzville

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