As both news sources noted, KZRG's Joe Lancello was interviewing Dr. Fort after Tuesday night's board meeting about some questions on professional development, a subject which came up during the session.
At some point, John Nicholas, the board's attorney, interrupted the interview and said all questions for the board should be directed to Board President Annie Sharp. Nicholas told the Globe it was a "decade-old protocol" and it is designed so the board can speak as one entity.
If we wanted the board to speak as one entity, we should elect a seven-person slate. We elect individuals who we think best reflect our own opinions on education and who we think are the ones who will do the best job of serving the children and the taxpayers of this district.
The questions that need to be asked?
-Who gave Nicholas the order to cut the interview short? Was it Annie Sharp? Was it C. J. Huff? Someone else?
-Since there is no written policy and there are no laws preventing school board members, whether they hold the position of president or not from speaking to the media, why would a lawyer be the one to intervene?
-Is this really a smart thing for someone who is about to be elected as a judge in Jasper County (Nicholas) to be doing?
-If this was the City Council and not the School Board, wouldn't the Globe be burning up the phone lines, asking Missouri Press Association lawyers whether an elected board can control which of its members can be interviewed by the media? (I am pleased, however, that the Globe wrote an article about this.)
-Why should members of the media not be allowed to go directly to an elected official to ask a question? What sense does it make to have them have to go through the district's P.R. flak to question someone who is right there in the room with them?
-Isn't this another example of the same type of intimidation that has been used to keep any R-8 employees from getting out of line and expressing anything that may question the belief that the Joplin R-8 School District is the best of all possible worlds? While I am not expecting this to keep Dr. Fort from questioning practices and actions that do not meet her definition of responsible or ethical, this appears to be another move by the Huff Administration and the old guard on the Board to isolate Dr. Fort and try to bully her into toeing the line.
-And finally, if C. J. Huff and the old guard are willing to take such a drastic, unnecessary action to stop a board member from talking to to the media, can there be much more doubt that the end is near for their reign of terror?