HOLDEN, Mass. — Members of the Wachusett Regional School District Committee were at odds Monday night over a motion that would review guidelines for members' contacts with outside state or private agencies, with some claiming this would amount to censorship.
The School Committee voted 9-7 in support of member Margaret Watson's recommendation, which would have the Management Subcommittee consider whether a policy should be developed.
"The problem seems to me that individual members are going out in individual directions, consulting with various agencies, and the committee needs to speak with one voice," said Watson.
"I'm not questioning the motives of committee members because I'm sure we all want what's best for the district, but if we need to consult with district counsel, the district attorney or the [Department of Elementary and Secondary Education or the Department of Revenue], it needs to come here, and we need to vote on it."
But member Stacey Jackson opposed the motion, saying it was their responsibility as elected officials to fact-check and get details to make informed decisions.
"We sit here as role models for the students we represent, and this motion sends the message to them of 'don't ask questions, rely on someone else's information, and just do what you are told,'" she said.
Furthermore, Jackson said the district's difficulties did not occur from unauthorized contacts to state agencies but said individuals had sought help and counsel because of the problems.
"The problems that we are now having with the Department of Revenue are not a result of Member [Julie] Kelley's phone call to them," she said. The problems resulted from overspending the budget by $1.2 million and the superintendent making transfers after the July 15 deadline.
The motion was not an effort to censor committee members, committee chair Duncan Leith said. It simply refers the motion to the Management Subcommittee for further consideration, with the school committee to then vote on its recommendation.
"I think it's common courtesy to bring issues and concerns to the committee, but you have rights as individuals and as a school committee member, too," he said.