The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles
Editor 

Irate residents decry 'invisible' school board

 

August 3, 2016



In the wake of the disclosure that Goldendale School District Superintendent Mark Heid had circumvented the law in the sale of a golf cart to the district, some residents are incensed at what appears to be a limited process of accountability and the annoyance of trying to reach a member of the school board.

“It’s crazy,” says Matt Miller, a city resident. “I read about that [incident] and I was furious. I went to city and county police, just to try to file a complaint about the superintendent. I was told they couldn’t do anything. I tried [Klickitat County Prosecuting Attorney David] Quesnel’s office and heard the same thing.”

Those agencies are powerless to take steps without action first from the school board, to which Heid ostensibly answers. “So I tried to reach one of them,” Miller says. “It’s impossible. Who are these people? They don’t answer their phones, they don’t return messages. One of them doesn’t even have an email or a phone listed on the board’s website. It’s like they’re invisible.”

In the course of covering two stories in recent weeks, The Sentinel has been unable to obtain comment from any of the school board members. One deferred comment to board chair John Hoctor, whose contact information is not shown on the board site and who has been unreachable to date. Another, contacted at her work email, insisted that inquiry about board matters be sent only to her district email address. Subsequently contacted at that address, she did not respond. Other board members do not have a district email address shown on the board site, only personal or work emails.

“Why isn’t the board addressing this? Why aren’t they making some statement? People are really angry,” Miller states. “There’s no accountability process here.”

Heid sold a golf cart to the district by transferring ownership to an acquaintance and then having the district buy the same cart from the acquaintance, in an effort to get around the RCW prohibition on such a sale.

Stalled in efforts to reach local officials, Miller says he took his comments to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), only to be told this was a matter to be handled by the Goldendale district school board. “Right,” Miller says. “I don’t see that happening.”

Miller’s next step was the Washington State Auditor. “They said they’d get back to me,” Miller says, adding he also urged them to contact The Sentinel. The newspaper is undertaking follow-up to Miller’s inquiry.

Miller contacted The Sentinel after reading its initial article on the matter, seeking to obtain contact information for school board members.

Insisting on speaking without attribution, other residents have expressed similar frustrations in trying to reach school board members.

 

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