Expectations of Elected Board of Education Members

I was appointed to the Jefferson County Board of Education in late October 2013 to fill the vacancy left when Board Member Robin Johnson resigned.


Though my time on the school board was short – 7 weeks – I took my oath of office very seriously.  When I swore to follow the law and uphold the Constitution, I understood that I was there to represent the interests of my community.  I knew that it was my job to listen to all sides of any argument, to look at the facts, information, and data presented by district staff and to hear, to really hear, what parents, teachers, and stakeholders in my community thought and felt about the issues at hand.


It was my job to take all these factors into consideration and to set aside my own personal beliefs, political or otherwise, my allegiances to other organizations, and even the needs of my own child, when making any decision.


Since I had been attending school board meetings for a decade, my knowledge of board policies and expectations was already fairly extensive but I took the time to read through all those policies again. 


I believed deeply that no matter how strongly I might disagree with any of my fellow board members I must also listen to and respect their voices and make every effort to understand their perspectives.


For me, that seat was not about politics, it was about our 85,000 children.  About making decisions in their best interests.


As Jeffco PTA President at the same time, I shifted many of my responsibilities to other members of my executive committee and board in order to avoid potential conflicts and I was fully prepared to recuse myself from any vote should a clear conflict of interest arise.  Had my appointment on the BOE been for a longer term, I would have resigned from PTA altogether.


Now, after many years of attending school board meetings and serving on the school board myself, it grieves me to watch the numerous open violations of state law and blatant disregard of school board policies by our current school board majority.


School boards are supposed to be non-partisan for a reason.  They are meant to be elected officials, regardless of where they sit on the political spectrum, coming together to find common ground in the best interests of our children.


What we see happening today should not be happening.  For the school board majority to shut out the public, the very people whose children, jobs, home values, and local economy is at stake, from the decision making process is a violation of public trust and an abuse of power.


For this school board majority to impose a highly partisan and controversial agenda on the public and, ultimately, our children is not even remotely acceptable.


I encourage all of you to make your voices heard, whether you agree with me or not.  Please don’t sit idly by thinking others will take up this fight for you.  Stand up and make your voice heard!


We can do no less to protect the education and future of our children.

Michele Patterson