The Dynamics of the SUSD Board Start to Form: How Is It Playing Out

The Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board has had a rather, shall we say…interesting job over the last few years (check out our coverage on it here). In the midst of those interesting times, the voters voted in two conservative board members in the last election, altering the dynamics of the board significantly. We are now gaining some insight as to how that might manifest itself going forward.

You can find the story here, but the biggest takeaway seems to be that the two recently-elected conservative members of the board, Amy Carney and Carine Werner, seemed to be rather unprepared or not really aware of the machinations of meetings such as this. That might be the best explanation of what transpired, since because board member Zach Lindsay was not there, one of their votes would be necessary to pass anything.

Both of them abstained from voting on the consent agenda, items that are generally procedural in nature agreed upon before the actual vote. Those are not controversial votes, but instead ones that you work on before you put things on public record. As a result of their abstention, work was stopped in its tracks.

In Carney and Werner’s defense, they had said that they requested information regarding a nominee for the next principal of Chaparral High School. Joshua Pantier has been the acting principal this year and an assistant principal for five years previous. It would have been helpful to know precisely what information Carney and Werner were looking for in order to see if it was an attempt at political gotcha-ism or good faith questions that were ignored, but we do not have that information.

For what seems to be a lack of preparation, purposeful obstinance, or perhaps information purposely withheld, the absent votes for the consent agenda meant that promotions and raises for 300 other employees were held up, something that I doubt they won’t notice.

Then, according to the Scottsdale Progress, “The board then spent a half hour debating a phrase in the policy titled “board member request for information”. This seems to have been purely an attempt of the new conservative members attempting to change language in statutes to vanquish the superintendent’s ability to get involved in related conversations, surely a desire to show the anti-CRT base that they are sticking it to Superintendent Menzel.

So in essence, that seems to be where the SUSD Governing Board is: two new conservative board members who don’t really seem to know what they’re doing and perhaps giving conservatives a bad name publicly as a result. Carney and Werner first seem to need to do their homework before meetings. Then, more overarchingly they need to figure out if they want their legacies to be stopping the ability of an otherwise decently functioning body to carry out its everyday business, or if they will choose to be reasonable, rational, conservative adults. If they choose the former, I hope they look at the aftermath of Newt Gingrich’s attempt to shut down the government and reconsider.