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Update: Langston Takes "Temporary Leave" From Roseville School Board

Board Chairwoman Gogins said action "unexpected." Flap is over handling of dispute involving fellow board member Lisa Edstrom.

Roseville School Board member Mona Langston said Tuesday night she is  taking "a temporary leave of absence" from the governing body following how it has handled a citzen's complaint against a fellow board member.

Langston said she needs until the end of April to decide whether longer term she wants to continue serving on the board. Langston's stunning announcement came after the board voted 4-2 to reject her motion to review the conduct issue and take possible action at a future meeting against the fellow board member for the incident.

Board chairwoman Kitty Gogins said Langston's announcement "was not expected. I know Mona had a difference of opinion with other board members on how this (issue) was handled. But I wasn't expecting her action and response to the vote.

"I have a lot of respect for Mona," Gogins continued. "She is very capable and talented. I hope she stays on the board. But I will respect what she decides."

The controversy is over the School Board's response to a district resident, who spoke at a recent board meeting and complained she that was followed out of the meeting room and verbally accosted by one of the board members.

Neither the citizen nor board member were named at Tuesday's meeting. But Roseville Patch has learned the controversy involves a verbal spat that board member Lisa Edstrom allegedly had with a citizen, Beth Kolodjski, during a meeting on Feb. 14. At issue is whether Edstrom's conduct violated the board's code of conduct.

On the Roseville Issues forum, Kolodjski said she felt bullied and intimidated by Edstrom after speaking at the Feb. 14 School Board meeting. Kolodjski said she filed a complaint with Roseville Police but asked that no action be action; then sent a letter to the School Board asking the directors to discusss the issue and sought an apology.

Gogins said Tuesday night she investigated the matter and responded to the citizen's complaint. Gogins said she concluded the board member (Edstrom) didn't violate the board's code of conduct.

"I think there is a difference of opinion around the magnitude of what happened," Gogins said,adding that board officers had a chance to see the letter she sent to the citizen.

But Langston said she was bothered that the board's letter didn't acknowledge  the board member (Edstrom) used poor judgment to get up from the meeting and walk out to confront the citizen. Langston contended the board's letter to the citizen (Kolodjski) failed to address her complaint.

"It left a bad taste in my mouth," Langston said, later adding that she could not ethically support the board's efforts to essentially brush aside the issue.
"We didn't adhere to our values statement," Langston contended.

Board member Bill Majerus disagreed, contending, "I think the board has already adequately taken care of this issue."

 The board's limited discussion took place in regards to Policy 210: School Board Code of Conduct. A related policy, No. 214, spells out how the board should handle violations of its code of conduct.

After Tuesday night's Board meeting, Edstrom declined comment.

In contemplating possibly resigning from the School Board, Langston alluded to other occasions where she feels the board has glossed over uncomfortable issues or rubberstamped actions. However, she did not elaborate on her comment.

Approached after she had walked out of the meeting, Langston said that the handling of the board member dispute has caused her some sleepless nights.

Asked whether she will return to the board, Langston said that might not occur. "Lots of changes have occur before that can happen," she said.



 

Jon Williams April 13, 2012 at 01:04 PM
I have always thought of the board as education's ultimate team. However, these machinations seem more like the rants of a loose confederation of warring tribes. The board should do what any team intent on success would do. And that is get together, work it out, and present a united front.
John Kysylyczyn April 13, 2012 at 01:27 PM
At the meeting, Langston stated that she tried everything possible to resolve the issues outside the meeting. Bringing it to the board was an act of last resort. Unlike most groups, a school board must comply with the open meeting law. Issues like this should be aired in a public forum from time to time. If you want to have a discussion with a quorum of your fellow members, it must be done in public.
Norm Hanson April 13, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Again and even after reading all of those long winded and repititous comments, I still don't understand the issue that Ms. Langston appears to be upset about. Hopefully, the matter that gave rise to the "incident" was not one of a personal nature as there is nothing more boring and childish than hearing folks try to always cast such things in personal terms.
John Kysylyczyn April 13, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Norm, if you have a code of conduct, you need to follow it. That's the issue. The code applies to everyone, not to just a few, and you can't waive it because you are friends with someone on the board. The majority on the board is doing the opposite of what I just said.
John Kysylyczyn April 13, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Norm, I typically look to the legislature for guidance on government organizational issues. This is no exception. When someone files an ethics complaint, no matter how trivial someone may think it is, it gets a hearing. Sometimes they are delayed, recessed, etc. but a hearing happens. Just because you sit in the majority politically, or are friends with the speaker, the process is not waived. All information is brought forward. A decision is rendered based upon the information presented. You have no staff members pulling strings in the background. The elected officials run the process. This did not happen at the school board.

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