Steamboat Springs Steamboat lost a very knowledgeable and sincere community leader Friday at the hands of a few - five, to be exact: the School Board. None of them represented the community. They were the same School Board members who, I might remind them, were elected to represent us - parents and staff alike.
Donna Howell's termination is a disgrace and will have irreversible, negative repercussions to the future of our school district. Every person who attended the meetings on Friday (aside from the five-member School Board) were there in support of retaining Donna Howell. All those who spoke, spoke in favor of retaining Howell. All those who declined to speak did so because they agreed with all that had been said by fellow supporters. Applause often followed every comment. Not one person, mind you, spoke out against Howell.
The School Board's decision for public comment was no more than an insult to the community - all those who attended and all those who wished to attend but couldn't because of the impromptu meeting. It was an insult because the board had already determined to terminate Donna Howell. So all the outpouring from the community to retain Howell basically went unheard and was not taken to heart by the School Board. This first became evident when the School Board president's disclaimer at the end of the morning meeting was: we've appreciated public comment, but we've been evaluating this relationship since December. At this point, it became apparent that it was not a matter of "if" but "when."
And as many of us learned, "when" was at 4 p.m. that very afternoon with the announcement of Donna Howell's termination.
When all School Board members voted in favor of terminating Donna Howell, the room was silenced and sickened. I'm aware that Char Rusk abstained to vote because, in her words, she hadn't been on the board long enough to make a decision. But I believe this to be a cop-out on her part. Rusk was involved long enough to have heard arguments from both sides. And if she didn't feel comfortable voting, then she should not have stepped up to fulfill the vacant position in the first place.
I'm disappointed because I voted for some of these School Board members to represent me based upon their election platforms. And I feel betrayed by all these members who stated the "board is of the opinion that everyone's interests ... will be better served by severing the current employment relationship" with Donna Howell. Obviously, the board failed to take to heart any of us who they supposedly represent when we all spoke in favor of Donna Howell.
I didn't sign the recall petition for John DeVincentis because I wanted both sides to work in a mature and professional manner - differences set aside - for the district. Obviously, board members could not and let their personal differences stand before them.
Thank you, Dr. Howell, for your commitment and integrity to our district.