Scottsdale Unified School Board Descends Deeper Into Division

The Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board has been a bit…messy recently. You can get completely up to speed here. There has been a clear schism between two factions within the board, and recent developments have made that schism even more obvious and contentious.

The conservative members of the board Carine Werner and Amy Carney are now saying that they are feeling “muzzled” in this new report. Since they are in a relative minority, as being the two staunch conservatives in a group of five, this should not be incredibly surprising. Votes for school boards often do become partisan in nature, and this is no different.

The details of the alleged muzzling are the sort of minutiae that nearly no one except the most dedicated observers know about or care about. It is related to an addendum to a code which would prohibit board members from serving on committees related to the work of the superintendent, which Werner apparently was in a non-voting capacity. She defended herself by saying that the parents were asking, and she is doing her duty to them.

As we had mentioned before, the two new board members are…new. There is always going to be a learning curve, and this particular one has seemed steep for them. It would appear that patience is running thin with the staff, as the mention of the board’s attorney cutting them off is notable. For those who run for office under the guise of disruption, this is common: you simply don’t know what you don’t know from the outside, and it’s much easier to say that you’re going to “drain the swamp” or whatever sloganeering you want to use than actually accomplish it.

And what Carney and Werner are attempting to do, in some way, is rather admirable. They are attempting to increase transparency in an opaque process, a process so opaque that they regularly have shown a relative lack of understanding. If we take them at their word, then the spirit of this is admirable. But demonstrating a relative lack of understanding of a process is not the way to make change.

In the meantime, the conflict between those two and the rest of the board becomes even more obvious, as the insertion of the language that caused the ruckus in the first place could easily be seen as a shot at Werner. Democracy works best when votes aren’t continuously down party lines, and it is our sincere hope that these rivalries die down, that the voting factions get less tribal, and our leaders are able to see issues through the prism of best judgments instead of “our side vs their side”.