On February 13, 2012, the majority of Clinton Township’s school board voted to eliminate school budget elections, thereby ending the 100-year-old right of citizens to vote on school taxes.
To justify their decision, the majority of 6 extensively cited the results of a “survey” published by the school district on its website for several days. However, the board never saw or had the opportunity to review the results of the survey.
Honoring the wishes of a hidden survey
Those who acted to kill school budget elections stated they felt they had to honor the wishes of “the majority” who voted in the survey, even though they never saw the results.
The vote was 6-3 with members Marc Freda, Michelle Sullivan, and newcomer Kevin Maloy voting against the measure. The board was told that 192 survey takers supported the measure out of a total of 250, but no record was offered.
School budget elections in Clinton Township are now officially ended. But the official survey results are not yet available to the public — or to the board itself.
At the February 13 meeting, board member Maria Grant — who appeared to be in charge of the survey — reported that she did not have the final tallies, but nonetheless reported the final results and ruminated on some of the “comments” that survey takers gave. The board then voted, and many members cited the wishes of the majority as reported from the hidden survey.
Hidden survey results to be delivered
ExMayor.com submitted an Open Public Records Act request on February 14, requesting:
Copies of all data collected in survey on “Moving School Elections to November”
This response was received today:
The information you requested is only in the hands of a Board member and the full report was never released to my office. It is my understanding that the report will be made available to the entire Board on Monday night and then made available to the public.
Anthony Del Sordi
Anthony Del Sordi
Clinton Township School District
How could the board of education have voted and cited the results of a survey that the board never saw?
OPRA deadline exceeded
The OPRA request included a second item:
All communications produced or received pertaining to this survey, especially between board members.
The school district has not responded to this item, putting it beyond the statutory requirement to respond to an OPRA request within 7 business days.
Not the first time
This isn’t the first time the board has been left in the dark about an important policy decision.
Last summer board president Jim Dincuff withheld from the board critical communications from the Clinton Township mayor and council about $250,000 worth of tax relief funds that in the end were withheld from taxpayers.
Surveys: The new policy-making policy
The school administration is conducting more surveys on its website, in which some people participate.
The school board spends tax dollars every month buy two pages in the CLinton Township Newsletter, which is the only publication delivered to every residence in the township. The board is not using the newsletter to conduct surveys of all residents.
Those who know where to find the surveys on the Internet and who know how to access them are welcome to vote. Visitors to these surveys are permitted to vote as many times as they wish on the same survey.