Article Update: On the afternoon of Monday 9/27, the WCSD Board decided to postpone the censure agenda item until October 12, 2021 to give everyone time to review the posted supporting material (see link below).
Tomorrow, the WCSD Board of Trustees has on its agenda to formally censure Trustee Jeff Church. Per the posted agenda, the Board has listed 27 board policies it believes Trustee Church has violated during his time in office.
What Exactly are they Accusing Trustee Church of Violating?
While we won’t go through all 27 accusations, many of the policy violations listed revolve around board unity, decorum and support. Here are just a few specifics:
9051 (1)(b)(i): While open dialogue is encouraged, Trustees are expected to support the final decision made by the whole Board. Trustees may confirm to the public that they voted against a Board decision but shall not engage in undermining the decision or publicly criticizing the Board or individual Trustees regarding the decision.
9051 (h): Use of Power: Trustees use power with practices to ensure that all voices are heard, collaborative processes are followed, and mutually beneficial solutions are employed. Trustees avoid using power over practices designed to promote only their own solutions or further their own special interests.
9052 (1)(a): As representatives of the district, communication based on mutual respect for each other is a priority for all members of the District organization, whether Trustee, employee or volunteer.
Today, the district posted 204 pages of supporting documents outlining their case against Trustee Church. You can view and access those here.
We spoke to a handful of parents and community members within Trustee Church’s District A asking their thoughts about the censure and pointing out what he is accused of violating. The overall consensus was that they believe he is being penalized for going against the grain and speaking up too much. They indicated they want their Board member to have the courage to stand up and boldly fight for the needs and rights of their families in District A.
It is important to have diverse voices on the Board in order to ensure fair representation.
What is a Formal Censure?
A censure is a formal and public reprimand. A censure is accomplished by a motion, approved by a majority of board members. The censure is then made public record.
While expressing strong disapproval of a Board Member’s behavior, a censure does not remove the Board Member from the elected position nor does it impair the Member’s ability to attend meetings, make and second motions, or vote on motions, unless there is reason for recusing the Board Member from any discussions or vote.
The main reason for censuring a Board Member, is to manage potential liability for the District and other Board Members. If the Board allows a Board Member in violation to go unchecked, it could be viewed as an endorsement of the misconduct. A censure may minimize or eliminate the District’s potential liability created by the behavior.
What Steps Led Up To Trustee Church’s Censure?
To formally censure, means the Board has had to exhaust all other action to correct behavior. Per Board Policy 9051 (4)(a-g), there are five relevant corrective steps that must be taken PRIOR to a formal censure, which we have listed below:
Trustees who fail to follow governance process policies, either during or outside of a Board meeting shall be addressed using the Balanced Governance Progressive Response Process listed below:
Concerns about a Board Member shall be reported to the Board President privately.
If the Board President determines it necessary, the Board President shall meet with the subject Board member and remind them of their pledge to follow governing policies and protocols.
If subparagraph (b) is ineffective, the Board President and one other Board Member shall meet with the subject Board member, remind him/her of the pledge to follow governing policies and protocols, and ask him/her to honor the commitment through appropriate action.
If subparagraph (c) is ineffective, the Board President, during a public Board meeting, shall remind the Board member(s) of their pledge to follow governing policies and protocols, and ask them to honor their commitment through appropriate action.
If subparagraph (d) is ineffective, the Board President shall engage in informal censure of the subject Board member through interrupting ensuing infractions in Board meetings and making formal public statements both during the Board meeting and outside the Board meeting as needed, to distance the Board’s position from the subject Board member’s position or statements.
(Not relevant to Trustee Church) In the event that the Board President fails to follow governance policies and processes, the Board Vice President shall engage the Balanced Governance Model Progressive Response process listed above in items a-e. If these steps are ineffective, the Board Vice President may entertain a recall vote of the seated Board President. By a two-thirds supermajority, the seated President can be removed. The Board Vice President shall assume the role of Board President and employ the Balanced Governance Model Progressive Response process item d, if necessary.
As a last resort, and only after thoughtful deliberation, the Board may vote to censure the subject Board member.
You are able to attend the board meeting tomorrow and make public comment on the censure agenda item as well as during the 5.0 general public comment. The Trustee Church Item will not be heard before 4pm. If you aren’t able to make the meeting, you can also submit public comment or agenda specific comments here. Learn how to make your voice heard.