To the Editor:

A group calling themselves “Concerned about Robbinsdale School District” is seeking enough signatures to launch an extensive forensic audit of District 281’s financial management and hiring practices at an unspecified expense to the school district. I do not support a tax-payer funded audit, because I do not believe that the Concerned Group has done due diligence to understand the situation via less costly and less confrontational means.

Early on, I followed the group’s activities on Facebook. I felt the information posted, though factual, was often accompanied by misguided assumptions and speculation and painted an inaccurate picture of the state of the district. I and others (some of whom have extensive knowledge of district policy and state funding) sometimes responded to what we felt were misleading or speculative posts with context or additional information – until we were blocked from participation and the group was closed from public view.

I find this closure disturbing. I say to the Concerned Group’s leadership: If you are fighting with all your strength to protect public schools, and yet find yourself having to take your fight behind closed doors, away from other life-long advocates of public schools, you might ask yourself, “Could there be parts of this narrative that I am choosing not to understand?”

I believe there is a better way to respond. We are bound to gain more information from board members and district administrators if we approach them with respectful questions and open minds, rather than angry demands and set opinions. Instead of banning those who offer a different perspective, we should welcome all knowledgeable people into the discussion, enlisting their help in getting information, and modeling the transparency that we seek from the district.

Concerned citizens should be prepared to do more than point a finger; we should be prepared to be a part of the solution, and that requires building strong relationships. If we distrust everyone and everything: the school board, the district administration, the teachers’ union, and the results of annual district audit, with whom will we work to build a better district?

Jennifer Holte


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