Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sir Steve Percival Brooks No Dissent

Fayetteville School Board President Steve Percival is the boss man who insists on controlling and limiting public comments about anything to do with public education, especially when those citizens disagree with his position. Last year, Percival banned one outspoken critic from speaking at board meetings, citing frequent violations of his unwritten expectations of decorum. He declared that she would no longer be allowed to speak before votes on action items at meetings or during the "citizen participation" to time, because she did not show the proper deference to the board and administrators. Ten days later, Percival finally printed and distributed some official rules of decorum.

This week, Sir Percival clamped down on public comment again at a district-hosted forum Thursday evening in the FHS Bates Annex.
Justin Minkel, a Fayetteville resident who was the 2006-07 Arkansas Teacher of the Year, was the last patron to speak. He attempted to discuss the merits and advantages of the current location of the high school, but he was interrupted at least three times by Percival, who admonished him, "You’re not respecting what I’m asking you to do.” At least Mr. Minkel didn't get banned or put on double-secret probation; he was just told to STFU.

On the other hand, board member Susan Heil, who is up for reelection in September, was never interrupted by Sir Percival. She went
on and on about the "partnership" with the University of Arkansas that she is pushing to compensate for the disconnect that would occur if she gets her way and the central location is sold and abandoned. When she is talking about the need for the UA to provide round-trip transportation to FHS students taking concurrent enrollment classes, who doesn't know that is directly talking about Location and the long ride in from the burbs. That's alright, since she wasn't suggesting that the district should build a world class facility on the current campus in central Fayetteville.

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