HONOR, INTEGRITY, AND CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
"Public officials must act with a higher standard for avoiding the appearance of impropriety, as a condition of the public trust bestowed upon them"- Mark Acciard, May 5, 2005.
Mr. Metzler has been the main cheerleader for a new reading program to help kids improve their reading comprehension with informational texts. This program is proffered by a company called Achieve 3000. A Company Mr. Metzler's wife just happens to work for. She is in charge of "program implementation"for the Northeast region for Achieve 3000, and has been working with them for over a year. Coincidently, the very same year that her husband has been pushing the district to spend $167,000 on this very program. Monies that were not appropriated for this purpose we might add. Also, this $167,000 represents a 50% discount of the total cost of the program for it's first two years.
It appears that Ms. Metzler began working for Achieve 3000 in or around Sept. 2015. Strictly coincidently we are certain, Mr. Metzler began pushing their reading program in Sept. of 2015. It was first mentioned at the meeting of the curriculum and assessment committee on Sept. 22. Subsequent minutes revealed that this was recommended by Mr. Metzler. The curriculum and assessment committee decided to adopt a pilot program to assess the students, and to begin training teachers to use it. Mind you, no presentation to the school board. No decision to buy the program. No appropriation of funds for it. And perhaps even more outrageous in the underhanded means in which this program was foisted upon the taxpayers, This was happening during the budget season, and no mention of this program was made to the budget committee, nor was a request for appropriation made to purchase or implement this program made. It should be noted that the "pilot program" is actually the initial implementation of Achieve 3000. It gathers the student assessment and base level data, trains teachers to use it, establishes the website, and assigned reading for each lexile level. The only thing missing IS BUYING THE PROGRAM THE DISTRICT IS ALREADY IMPLEMENTING!
At the curriculum and assessment committee meeting on February 16, 2016, it was reported that the assessment of students had been completed, teachers trained, and the program proceeding. STILL no mention to the school board, no vote to purchase the program, no vote to implement the program, no monies appropriated for it, and no disclosure of Ms. Metzler's role in the company.
At the curriculum and assessment committee meeting Sept. 6, 2016 the ball really began rolling, They reviewed progress to date, and Mr. Bealo(also chair of the school board, although he had yet to mention this program to them) made the motion to vote to present this program to the school board, at their Sept. 15, 2016 meeting. It was also revealed that Achieve 3000 had provided to the district a phonics program, SmartyAntz, as an additional incentive for "agreeing to purchase" the reading program. NOTE, as of this time there had been NO presentation to the school board. NO vote to buy the program. NO appropriation of monies to buy the program. and NO disclosure of Ms. Metzler's unique role in this debacle. Tell us, Mr. Bealo, who "AGREED" to purchase Achieve 3000 at that point? You?
The Sept. 15, 2016 school board meeting showed a high pressure sales presentation that was not presented as a sales pitch but as a fait accompli. It was presented WITH MR. METZLER'S ACTIVE HELP AND COERCION, as if the decision to purchase had already been made. The usual board bobble heads made the usual bleats about the wonder of this incredible program, the usual representatives of the taxpayers raised the usual questions about the process, only to be shot down, as usual, by the entrenched purveyors of the status quo.
Now, the PROPER course of action, would have been for Metzler to plainly, and publicly state; "In full disclosure, my wife is employed by this vendor, Achieve 3000, and therefore I will be recusing myself and not participating in the discussion of this program" But that would have required a sense of honor and integrity evidently missing from the gentleman in question.
And, as usual, the school board, Mr. Metzler, and the SAU also ignored their own policies, to advance their own personal agendas. The school board has a policy governing curriculae adoption, the salient portion of which reads as follows;
"The School Board will support efforts to investigate new curricular ideas, develop and improve programs, and evaluate results through appropriation of funds for specific curriculum development proposals approved by the School Board. The Superintendent will make recommendations to the Board regarding the specific level of funding for approved proposals.The School Board will review all curricula developed and written by the professional staff in the schools. No basic course of study shall be eliminated or new courses added without approval of the Board, nor shall any significant alteration or reduction of a course of study be made without Board approval. No action will be taken on proposed changes by the Board until the meeting following the presentation by the administration so that Board members may have the opportunity to review the proposed program." Note the emboldened passage.
Further Mr. Metzler never disclosed his family's relationship this vendor. Now OF COURSE, the SAU lacks an ethics, or conflict of interest policy like most government bodies have, which allows corrupt administrators to act with appalling abandon to theirs and their families interestss. It is high time to correct this problem.
Justice Louis Brandeis was correct; Sunlight is the best disinfectant. It is high time for the district, INCLUDING THE SAU, to have a stringent conflicts of interest ordinance. It is high time for the secrecy, and refusal to produce public information to stop. It is time for Mr. Metzler to understand that his bosses are the school board and their bosses are the taxpayers.