Grant community voices displeasure with school board
Once again the Grant Public School Board was met with an outpouring of criticism from the community members who echoed the same theme throughout the public comment portion of their regular monthly meeting.
The comments centered on the four members Ken Thorne, Rachal Gort, Sabrina Veltkamp-Blok and Richard Vance who had moved in their June meeting to sever ties with Family Health Center who have provided the Child and Adolescent Health Center at the schools since 2010., Since that decision those Board members have heard a constant stream of reproval from the community they serve.
During the business part of the meeting Board Member Rob Schuitema expressed his frustration over the lack of movement with regard to the CAHC and made a motion to vacate the decision made in June.
“The clock is ticking and it needs to stop. We are 2 weeks away from the start of the school year.”
Thorne stated that contract negotiations have been started and that there had been one conversation. “It sounds like it went very well and there was a very hopeful feeling that came out of that meeting.”
“That’s nice to know. It would have been nice to know this before sitting here right now,” replied Schuitema.
The motion was seconded by newly appointed Board member Stephanie Deible but defeated with the four members who supported the original motion voting against his motion.
The Board continued with other business, including passing a motion to not sell a piece of school property that had been part of discussions for several months.
Then it was the community’s turn.
The comments questioned the motives of the 4 Board members challenging them to deliver reasons for their action on the CAHC. At one point a photo was held up showing Board President Thorne’s vehicle displaying a 3 Percenter emblem, a Roman Numeral 3 surrounded by 13 stars, on the rear window. Throne was asked whether he was a member of the militia group but offered no answer.
As in previous meetings the speakers took the 4 board members to task citing their lack of transparency and questioned why they have been given no explanations as to the reasoning behind the action taken on the CAHC.
Two people were removed from the meeting by law enforcement after outbursts that failed to heed the urging by Thorne to stop yelling their comments from the audience, but the dozens who took to the podium questioned the ability of the board to represent the school and the community with most urging the four to resign their positions.
Only one person spoke favorably of the board stating, “There are many people who quietly support your efforts.” while many referenced their loss of trust that the four would operate in the best interests of the students.
Prior to the meeting a press conference was held on the school property by the Grant School Board Recall Initiative who will be pursuing recall petitions for the four. On Tuesday the petition language was approved. Community member Megan Wirts who is part of the recall effort offered the 4 an opportunity to resign immediately during her time at the podium.
“We’re not going away. If you don’t resign we will vote you out. Either way you will no longer be filling those seats.”
The next scheduled School Board meeting is September 11, 2023 at 6pm. The meeting will be held at the Grant Fine Arts Center.