Silence of the lambs: The Guildhall School Board

To the Editor:

The Guildhall School Board's theme at the Monday, Sept. 19 meeting was silence. And more silence. With the exception of courageous dissenting member Sharal Plumley, the Board had apparently decided to respond to voter and taxpayer concerns with a resounding silence. Evidently, they do not feel that citizen and voter questions are worthy of answers.

On the other hand, there were 15 of us present in opposition tonight. I'm proud to have been a part of this group. Virtually every one of us had something intelligent, spirited, and compelling to say. We were not silent. Here are some of the things we wanted to know:

â?¢ Why did the Guildhall School Board hold an improperly warned, semi-secret meeting at 2:30 p.m. on August 31, 2011, the very meeting in which they decided to tuition out our gifted and talented 5th grader to an underperforming school in New Hampshire that has no gifted and talented program?

â?¢ Why was board member Matt Smith permitted to vote in a matter that clearly financially benefited himself and his family (the tuitioning out of his child, in violation of Vermont statute?)

â?¢ Why did the school board majority vote to tuition out this 5th grader in a flagrant violation of the will of Guildhall's legal voters, in votes taken on March 1, 2011 and August 10, 2011?

For the most part, board members openly and repeatedly refused to answer these questions, (With the exception, again, of Board chair Sharal Plumley). Their silence would have been amusing if it was so insulting to the voter/citizens in attendance.

At one point, Guildhall resident and parent of students in the district, Gary Brown, bravely called for board member Matt Smith to resign because of his refusal to recuse himself in the August 31st vote. In response, Sharal Plumley made a motion for Mr. Smith to resign. Helen Martin sat in silence and refused to second the motion. So now, we have a school bBoard member who knowingly violated a Vermont statute relating to conflict of interest on school boards, but remains in his position.

Oh, I forget: One other very important question the board refused to answer, maybe the most important question of all. We asked them what they would say to all the Guildhall families over the years who decided to send their kids out of the district, for whatever reasons, and who had struggled to pay for it themselves. No one gave them subsidies.

Why is this child, or this family, any more special or deserving, than any of those families?

The answer: more silence. Why the silence, anyway? We think we know why. You resort to silence when there is no good answer and your position is morally and legally indefensible.

Laura Wilson

Guildhall, Vt.

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