Audio of Glen Rose ISD (Texas) School Board Meeting Re: Joelle Ogletree from Sept 24, 2007
Audio of Glen Rose ISD (Texas) School Board Meeting Re: Joelle Ogletree from Sept 24, 2007
13 November 2007 at 12:54:12 PM
When I first started writing about Joelle Ogletree, it was to put in an article of general interest about Glen Rose. I didn't know her or her situation personally, thus had no way to consider whether she had actually done what she was accused of. What I did believe was that since her court case had been not only called a mistrial, but the charges were dropped, AND she had her teaching license upheld by the TEA, that she had a complete and perfect right to defend herself against spurious charges. Since then, I have read the 80 page administrative law judge report that exonerated Ogletree, have seen two of her accusers on Dr Phil fail a polygraph (Chayce Wilson and Matt Brooks) and have formed an opinion that she is being unfairly treated by the GRISD school board.
Now I have actually had opportunity to meet her in person. She read the website and contacted me to tell me she had an audio recording of the school board meeting of Sept 24, 2007, when her request to be able to volunteer at her child's school was denied by the board. Today we met and I find her to be not only charming and intelligent, but credible.
I am putting here the audio of the school board meeting as an MP3. When you listen to this, it's really unbelievable that school board denied her request. Wayne Rotan is the superintendent who spoke against her, and it's not clear why he would want to put his own judgement over that of the State of Texas. He said at one point that parents have no rights or privileges to volunteer; however, GRISD does have a volunteer program, all others who are innocent can volunteer, so why would SHE be singled out? It's wrong to deny someone who has been, not just falsely accused, but is innocent of charges... because the charges, again, were DROPPED against her, and a 3 day hearing found that she was telling the truth and her two accusers were not.
I also want to take this opportunity to say something about this blog. This is not a newspaper, it's a blog, mostly a political blog, and therefore full of opinions from those of us who post here. It's not a house organ for Ogletree, but heck, we believe after reading the evidence, that the school board is in the wrong and needs to man up, apologize, and rectify the situation. And that's what we're going to express, according to our own lights and the way WE want to present it. I fail to see how anyone that sees the facts in this case could possibly continue to treat Ogletree as a guilty person. It's just wrong.
1 - mcarapella
16 Nov 2007 @ 3:40:44 AM
My name is Michael and I have a good deal of experience following public cases wherein sexual misconduct was falsely alleged—specifically between children and adults. Ms. Ogletree’s case is exceptional. No rational, clear-thinking human being could review the facts and developments in this case and believe for a moment that Ms. Ogletree is guilty of anything. In fact, from my vantage point, this has become a benchmark for the power of a lie and the power of the truth. Many good comments have already been made on previous posts—so to avoid going on too long I’ll limit most of the rest of my comments regarding this post to the School Board Meeting audio.
Despite knowing most of the facts of this case for a couple of weeks now, I never really felt as angry as I do at this very moment, having listened to this meeting. There is no punishment severe enough for these school board members. Willful ignorance and reckless disregard for the rights of another human being WHEN ALL THE FACTS ARE IN EVIDENCE is inexcusable. I apologize in advance if my comments are, or become, too “colorful” but I feel the need to express myself—and to highlight the lowlights of this meeting for those who may not have the time or means to listen to the audio.
My first impression is that this was a complete waste of time for Ms. Ogletree. That board had no intention of considering anything she said. In fact, when Mr. Rotan claimed at the meeting that his recommendation of denial of her grievance was “nothing personal,” it reminded me of when Matt told Dr. Phil that he was going to take his “secret to the grave.” Some lies are so obvious and so bad that I almost have to give the liars credit for having killed so completely every last remnant of any morality they may have ever had. It’s no small feat to lie that badly and keep your head up.
After some procedural details are explained at the beginning of the hearing, Ms. Ogletree reads her statement to the school board. In her statement, she describes how she’s been cleared of all charges and accusations by the TEA and emphasizes that her wrongful termination suit against the district is wholly unrelated to her desire to volunteer in her child’s classroom. Mr. Rotan responds by first stating that he’s reviewed all “reports, statements and information” that were available to him. Since the TEA’s Proposal for Decision exonerating Ms. Ogletree is available to everyone—assumably it was available and reviewed by Mr. Rotan. He then turns back the clock and lists off a few of the general accusations against Ms. Ogletree AS THOUGH THE PFD DIDN’T EXIST. I cannot emphasize enough how bizarre this was. You really should listen for yourself. Not only is it bizarre—it’s infuriating. He actually said, “copies of inappropriate notes written by the teacher were recovered at the students home” along with noting that two of the students passed a lie detector test and failing to also note that Ms. Ogletree did as well. Nothing personal?? If that is not a lie—then he should be executed for terminal stupidity. If he truly lacks the ability to pars out the facts in this case, he has no business being anywhere near a school—let alone holding a position of authority in a school system. I do not believe, however, that that is the case. This is clearly punitive retaliation on behalf of Mr. Rotan and the school board (except for the one female board member who, at the end, makes a weak attempt at standing alone by mumbling something about the fact that she can’t vote based on only what she’s heard in the hearing—or something like that. She abstains. Pathetic). His behavior and statement is inexcusable.
“There are no state or federal rights or guarantees for parents to volunteer in classrooms.” -Wayne Rotan
That statement is unequivocal proof of complete moral rot. Laws would be unnecessary if people did the right thing because it was the right thing to do. Because not everyone does that, a justice system is required to maintain order and force people to do the right thing and punish them when they do not. What Mr. Rotan is saying by making that statement is—I’m not required by law to let her volunteer, therefor I’m not going to let her volunteer. Mr. Rotan is making it clear that he will only do the right thing if he is forced. Otherwise, he will act as punitively as the law allows. He concludes his remarks by stating that Glen Rose ISD must look out for the safety and well being of all of our students. Now, what I would have loved to have heard at that point is someone forcing him to make ANY connection between Ms. Ogletree VOLUNTEERING—UNDER SUPERVISION—IN AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CLASSROOM and his statement regarding safety. But, of course, we can’t do that. Proper procedure prevents it. They then attempt to blow right past Ms. Ogletree’s rebuttal time, but fortunately Ms. Ogletree doesn’t let them—although the feeling of futility must have already set in by now.
Ms. Ogletree then tries to rebut Mr. Rotan’s nonsense without sounding too condescending—for which she deserves a lot of credit. Then one of the board members asks Ms. Ogletree about her statement that EVERY allegation made against her was proven untrue by the TEA. Ms. Ogletree, true to form, answers completely honestly—too honestly in fact—that every allegation for which there was PROOF available to refute, was proven untrue. She then notes that some allegations cannot be proven untrue due to their nature. By my reading of the PFD, the TEA detailed point–by-point every allegation and their finding that it was untrue—even those they could not technically PROVE were untrue. It’s possible that some were left unaddressed I suppose and that may have been to what Ms. Ogletree was referring.
Next is my favorite question. A SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER asks MS. OGLETREE: “Who sits on the TEA board?” WHAT???????? I had to rewind. I couldn’t believe my ears. Aside from being mostly irrelevant—you’re asking the PETITIONER?????
Anyway, they then vote to uphold the decision to ban her from volunteering. Their decision confirms the following:
Once an allegation is made against a teacher in the Glen Rose ISD, there is no need for any further investigation. Indisputable proof that the allegations were fabricated will carry no weight when making decisions with regard to the accused. There is, in fact, no distinction between an accusation and a conviction.
Hopefully this proceeding served to increase Ms. Ogletree’s resolve and she and her legal team will be able to use this as further proof of the grossly unfair treatment she received and continues to receive. The school board is nothing if not consistent in their incompetence and vindictiveness.
When this is over, every teacher in Texas will owe a debt of gratitude to Joelle Ogletree for stopping this insanity. I personally regard her as a hero, in the truest sense of the word, who has sacrificed on every level to confront institutional evil at its core.
2 - salon
16 Nov 2007 @ 12:51:51 PM
I absolutely agree with your comments about the school board's decision affirming that there's no distinction between an accusaion and a conviction. And that's just astonishing for anyone living in the United States to believe that, but even more so when it's positions of authority. Latest Blog Post by salon -Video- Former President Barack Obama on the State of our Democracy
3 - Integrity*rules
19 Nov 2007 @ 1:04:49 PM
Just stopped by to see what has been happening? "Yes" Ms.Ogletree is a "Hero", that was well put! I have two daughters and if they measure up to even a portion of the strength and determination shown by the Ogletree family, that will be wonderful.
One more note to Mr. Ogletree. You are awesome also! It takes a strong person to have to suffer in silence while people are attacking the ones you love. It will never be "worth it" but it will be a bitter sweet day when the school district has to write that check and you get to "take them to the cleaners"! "Best wishes to you all"
4 - SomervellSally
19 Nov 2007 @ 1:33:03 PM
When is the next school board election in Somervell? Are any of the board members "appointed" in our county? What can average citizen do here to help? Latest Blog Post by SomervellSally -Celebrate Somervell !
5 - salon
19 Nov 2007 @ 1:56:52 PM
I believe, although someone might correct me, that all school board members are elected; the superintendent was hired, and I believe that the school board may be the one that votes to hire that person. http://leonardisd.org/schoolboardquest.htm (this is from a different school district but it says that one of the duties of the school board in Texas is to hire a superintendent). That doc also says that school board members serve staggered 3 year terms, so that they're not all up for election at the same time. One would think that if (assuming this school board and superintendent doesn't do the right, honorable action) the school board members change, they could get a new superintendent that wasn't going to make such an egregious error in judgement. Latest Blog Post by salon -Video- Former President Barack Obama on the State of our Democracy
6 - salon
19 Nov 2007 @ 2:19:56 PM
And I meant to add, all the school board members who voted for this also are in the wrong. I don't know who is up for election in the next round nor exactly when that election is (seems like it's the same time the city elections take place, in the spring), but the admins would know. Then, some people need to step up to run against the ones who are currently on the board. Latest Blog Post by salon -Video- Former President Barack Obama on the State of our Democracy
7 - mcarapella
20 Nov 2007 @ 3:26:11 PM
I think the battle here is all uphill on the school board front. I truly have no idea if they have competently handled more routine school board matters, or not. What we DO know is that if they're faced with a somewhat controversial and unusual circumstance, they will not be sidetracked by the facts. They will make whatever move they regard as safest. They can't be blamed for any perceptions or actions that may occur as a result of Ms. Ogletree volunteering in an elementary school classroom (much disbelief needs to be suspended here--just stay with me)if they don't let her volunteer.
I don't think replacing a couple of board members is likely to have any effect at all on this matter. First of all, you would be looking for someone who has enough backbone to stand up for what is right, such that they would be willing to contradict the superintendent in an open meeting. After the Ogletrees and those of us posting on this blog, that's a REALLY short list. Assuming a clear-thinking, informed council member or two were elected and this circumstance was revisited, and further assuming that they were willing to stand up for what is right and oppose the superintendent(I feel silly typing the rest of this sentence at this point), they would still be outnumbered.
Replacing the superintendent is about the only thing that I see having any impact on the board level. However, that brings you up against the next problem. Let's assume they replace the superintendent. The next superintendent will likely receive "information" from this one--or from the same source as this one, or both. So, the new super will have the considered wisdom of those who have gone before them in one ear, and an 80 page document from a five year old case that will never be looked at sitting in a pile somewhere (and it's wishful thinking that they actually have a copy--we know they haven't read it). Too much doom and gloom?
Not really. We can't make this group care. But we CAN bring it through the legal system where people are paid to care and get it right. Where people have to justify there actions in their depositions and in open court with transcripts for all to see. That's where the veil of board meeting procedure is torn away and they'll HAVE to answer questions, in a very UNFRIENDLY environment. So when Mr. Rotan will no longer be able to hide behind meaningless cliches (I'm doing what I think is best for the district and all the students), he'll have to come up with something TANGIBLE to explain the connection between student safety and Ms. Ogletree volunteering, for example.
What I'm really hoping for is that the decision that comes down in Ms. Ogletree's wrongful termination case(and her case DEFINES wrongful termination)will be as definitive and strongly worded as the PFD from the TEA. That, and some $$$$, will surely get this school board's attention--and likely a few others along the way.
8 - pstern
20 Nov 2007 @ 4:08:06 PM
Regarding the #5 comment by Salon. You are correct for the most part re: Board Members are elected, the Supt. is hired.
The Board receives the applications sent by prospective candidates and it selects the top few for consideration and interview.
Generally, there first is a hiring committee assembled by the district to select a Supt., usually comprising at least 1 Board member, 1 teacher, 1 parent, and another staff member. Usually the number on the committee is more. The number of people on the hiring committee is up to the district.
The Board must approve the final decision of the hiring committee. Usually, this is just a formality at this level.
This is usual, but may vary from district to district.
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