by Erin Knutson/Black Press
Fraser-Cascade School District 78 (SD78), in a special closed meeting held on Oct. 3 voted to formally censure board trustee, Rose Tustian, for making disparaging comments in public meetings regarding an employee of the board.
“The board takes seriously the need to ensure a respectful work environment,” stated Linda Kerr, at the original meeting.
The comments Tustian made were contrary to board policy #6215 (Respectful Workplace) and board policy #1080 (Trustee Code of Ethics), which emphasizes the implementation of a safe, professional, and trustworthy environment that is free of discrimination.
A formal public apology to the plaintiff was scheduled for the Nov. 15 regular meeting.
The apology was made at the Nov. 15 meeting to the offended employee, Transportation Supervisor Dan Landrath, by board chair Linda Kerr of SD78, on behalf of Tustian who was missing for the formal apology.
“Some months ago, on behalf of the board, I wrote to Mr. Landrath to apologize about the comments that were made, expressing our support for him, and our appreciation of his work on behalf of the district.
With his consent and with the information that improper comments were made at a public meeting, we believe that it is appropriate that the apology also be made public,” said Kerr.
The apology followed her statement of intent.
“I would like to publicly apologize to Mr. Landrath for the hurt and embarrassment caused to him by the actions of the trustee of this board. We regret that those statements were made and we wish to make it clear that the board has complete confidence in Mr. Landrath’s professionalism, competence, and integrity. We appreciate the work he does for the district and our students and we thank him for his service,” said Kerr.
The cost of this process in legal fees and investigative costs has totalled $55,000, a staggering amount that has trustees dismayed and outraged over lost funds for the district.
“Am I hearing $55,000 — that could go a long way in the classrooms, couldn’t it? Words do matter — I’m appalled,” said trustee Tom Hendrickson.
Marny Pfiefer, shop steward for Construction Maintenance and Allied Workers Local Union 2423, and a representative of Landrath attended the meeting and stated that until a public formal apology is made by Tustian in person and in writing, they will continue to pursue the matter legally.