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Response to resident's letter to
Broadview Journal/Brecksville Magazine (Aug. 2007)

July 20, 2007

There are three points I would like to make in response to Sherri Camperchioli's letter to the Editor published in the August, 2007 edition of the Broadview Journal and Brecksville Magazine.
One: Ms. Camperchioli's letter, in response to my letter of July, 2007, shows that she completely misunderstood my primary point. In my letter go..., I state that I do not want advertising decisions to be made by unelected individuals, and that if advertising would be allowed in our schools it SHOULD be our elected officials who make those decisions.  The proposed policy would delegate the Board's responsibility to an unelected designee.
Ms. Camperchioli wrote: "In some situations, you have to trust the public officials the majority of the population voted into office. In this case, it is the board of education. We cannot micro manage {sic} all the details of the business conducted by our public servants. I trust the current board of education to evaluate advertising brought forward for consideration."
The point of my letter is that under the proposed advertising policy, the public is asked to trust NOT our elected public officials, as Ms. Camperchioli suggests, but to instead trust our unelected school officials "to evaluate advertising brought forward."  Under the proposed policy, it would NOT be our elected Board that would decide which products our schools would promote to our children while they are school, because the Board would leave those decisions up to unelected school officials. 

Many school officials have already demonstrated poor judgment in making such decisions, which is why, for nearly two years now, I have been trying to persuade the Board to require its approval of advertising. Consider the following: 

In the Spring of 2005, many school officials supported former Superintendent Farnsworth's proposal to contract with a controversial commercial broadcast, Channel One. They thought the content of Channel One was appropriate, and that it was okay to make our students watch 2 minutes of commercials each day. When the public learned of this plan, the public outcry against it was loud enough to prevent Channel One from entering our Middle School.
In the Fall of 2005, I discovered that the High School was distributing book covers advertising "The OC," a teen soap opera that deals with issues that challenge traditional family values, and had aired an episode that featured a homosexual encounter between two teenage girls. When I brought this to light during a public Board meeting, the book covers were almost immediately removed from the High School.
Because these two instances show that the standards of unelected school officials and the standards of our community are not always one in the same, the Board should not allow advertising decisions to be made behind the closed doors of an unelected school official's office, enabling our schools to avoid the public scrutiny of those decisions which led to the defeat of Channel One and the removal of "The OC" book covers.

I personally believe commercial advertising has no place in the public schools; but as a compromise I advocate that such decisions should at least be made by our School Board during a public meeting so that if parents or taxpayers object to a particular advertisement, at least they'd have an opportunity to be heard.

The second point I would like to make in response to Ms. Camperchioli's letter concerns communicating with the Board of Education.
Ms. Camperchioli wrote: "I know that a public official appreciates the frank personal conversation of a phone call verses public displays of dismay without prior discussions."
I tried that approach. It was about two and a half years ago when I had my first contact with the Board of Education. I reached out, on a personal level, to each member of the Board (at that time) on a matter that was important to me concerning my son's education. But the Board completely ignored me, and the Superintendent took a condescending approach toward me.  I learned that an attempt to deal with a matter on a personal level with the Board members was futile.

I am glad that Mrs.Camperchioli has had good experience with approaching Board members on a personal level. Unfortunately, I have not had that same positive experience. Because of the Board's unwillingness to give me the courtesy of a personal response to my plea for help in a matter concerning my son's education, I concluded that the Board does not deserve, does not appreciate, and cannot expect the courtesy it is not willing to show. That is why I voice my criticisms and concerns in the public forum.
The last point I would like to make is that Mrs. Camperchioli says that she had spoken with several members of the Board about the advertising issue.  Yet, she also wrote:  "I trust the current board of education to evaluate advertising brought forward for consideration." 

Apparently, she doesn't know that (under the policy the board indicated it would be adopting) it wouldn't be our elected Board members, it would be its UNELECTED designee who would "evaluate advertising brought forward for consideration."  She said she had spoken with Board members personally and after that personal contact, she came away with the misguided impression that the Board would be doing the evaluating. 

The fact that she misunderstood the effect of the policy even after talking with the Board members personally is further evidence that the most effective way to communicate with the Board is in the public forum.
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