Missteps by Scottsdale Unified: Is It Purposeful Subversion?

The Scottsdale Unified School District has had a good run recently. From largely avoiding the controversies that befell it a few years back to operating schools at levels that are gaining national recognition (read our full coverage here), it has been relatively smooth sailing recently…until now. A recent story potentially demonstrates an unforced error and a significant bump in the road, but a more cynical look implies that perhaps it may be subterfuge from within.

A local attorney recently filed suit alleging that SUSD violated open meeting laws by not putting the details of a retreat onto the public record. This same attorney brought suit over violations of open meeting laws several years ago: the rule that whenever there are official meetings, the agenda must be made public. That lawsuit was successful: AG Kris Mayes agreed with the merits of the suit.

This particular instance doesn’t pertain to a regular meeting, but instead a retreat. While there did seem to be education-related workshops to it, it does not seem to have been focused around official district happenings; where the line is drawn insofar as open meetings law is probably not so precisely settled, so one could see both sides: why it wouldn’t be necessary and why it would be prudent.

However, the notable aspect is the two members who spoke up about these omissions: newcomers, staunch conservatives and sometimes bomb-thrower board members Amy Carney and Carine Werner. These two had shown sometimes embarrassingly little understanding of the rules of the board, and so to have them now taking the lead on a potential procedural mistake seems a bit…odd.

Also notable is that the same attorney filed suit during open meeting violations at the height of Covid-era insanity, a time when both Carney and Werner cut their teeth as activists that were heavily critical of SUSD. Is it possible that they prompted that attorney to file suit originally and are now doing the same now? Is it possible that he is their tool to attempt to demonstrate dysfunction at SUSD for their own benefit? It’s tough to believe that the agenda of a retreat is vital information for the public, even if it does violate the letter of the law, but it does make for good talking points and an opportunity to look like heroes.

All of this is entirely speculation and may have no relation whatsoever. But it seems odd that the people who had no issues throwing bombs and ignoring procedure are now so very concerned about procedure when it allows them the opportunity to stand out positively. It makes you wonder.