SD78 board member censured, again

Unclear how much the latest censure will cost the board

Public announcement posted in The Hope Standard Jan. 25 explaining the details of the SD78 board’s second censure of trustee Rose Tustian. SD78 image.

Trustee Rose Tustian has been censured by the School District 78 board and excluded from all confidential meetings.

The decision came during a private meeting Jan. 15, the second time Tustian has been censured by the board.

The first time Tustian was censured, the process ended up costing $48,000.

“Rose Tustian will be censured for disclosing confidential information to the public on multiple occasions during the calendar year 2017,” a notice by the board published in The Hope Standard reads.

The confidential information allegedly leaked by Tustian came from in camera meetings of the board, board chair Linda Kerr stated in an email. Personnel decisions, legal proceedings and land issues are discussed at these meetings.

The SD78 trustee code of ethics prohibits trustees from discussing confidential information outside of board or committee meetings.

School boards can choose to censure a board member as a form of disciplinary action.

A censure on its own is largely symbolic but it is often accompanied by other sanctions. In this case, Tustian is barred from attending confidential board meetings.

Kerr declined to repeat what information Tustian shared publicly, as the information was meant to be kept confidential.

Trustee Tustian said she tries to bring information to the public whenever she can and alluded to bullying within the school board.

“Bullying and harassment is something that happens in our school district and it happens around our table,” she said.

This is not Tustian’s first time in the school board spotlight. She was censured by the board in 2016 for making disparaging comments about a board employee in a public meeting.

An apology, by board chair Linda Kerr on behalf of Tustian, was eventually made to the offended employee Dan Landrath, transportation supervisor.

The ordeal ended up costing the school board $48,000 in legal and investigation costs.

It is unclear how much the latest censure will cost the school board.

Kerr stated the board did not make an external investigation this time and only had brief discussions with legal counsel.

In December, the board criticized a Facebook post Tustian made in the Life in Agassiz Facebook group.

This incident is not related to the disclosures of private information, Kerr said.

The Oct. 7 post asked for input into how a “five million dollar surplus” should be allocated. Kerr stated at the time the funds were not a surplus but were contingency funds and any decisions on how to use those funds needed to go through the proper procedures.

With files from Nina Grossman, Agassiz-Harrison Observer

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly cited the cost of the first censure of school board trustee Rose Tustian. The text has been edited to correct the mistake and the correct cost of the censure, $48,000, has been added to the story.

 

SD78 School Board trustee Rose Tustian. Submitted photo

A Facebook post made by trustee Rose Tustian asking for public input on how to spend a $5 million surplus. Facebook image.

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