Columnists

Reader Questions School Board Leadership

Dear Editor,

I’m writing to express my support for House Bill (H.B.) 1130. Throughout 2021, Noblesville School Board President Joe Forgey repeatedly used his position as the supreme judge to determine what was and was not acceptable speech at school board meetings to silence parents and taxpayers whose comments he disliked.

Forgey regularly interrupted people (public comment starts at 52:50) during their 3-minutes of talk time and for two months held meetings virtually. He claimed the shift to virtual had something to do with COVID. However, the format change came after numerous parents (standing room only) went to an August board meeting to voice their displeasure with Superintendent Niedermeyer’s sudden and unexpected reversal from mask-optional to mask mandate, which Joe supported. Coincidence?

The August board meeting was boisterous at times. Parents were caught off guard by Beth’s mask decree. At the beginning of the school year, masks were optional. Then, around four o’clock on a Friday afternoon heading into a holiday weekend, the Superintendent’s office sends an email to parents communicating that the mask mandate was back in effect. People can debate the efficacy of masks. Some take as absolute truth whatever mask doctrine federal and state health officials give, no matter how fluid it is, others do their research and arrive at a different conclusion. Regardless, parents have every right to question mask mandates vigorously. Leadership is difficult. It’s not always unicorns and lollipops.

With one notable exception, Laura Alerding, the Noblesville School Board has all but relinquished their role in providing oversight on their one and only employee, the outgoing Superintendent, Beth Niedermeyer. For example, Beth was given the authority to dictate mask policy in Noblesville Schools without board approval. I want to think that a robust debate on the matter would have yielded a different result, but that is not likely given the weak leadership of Joe Forgey on this and other closely related issues. 

Censoring speech among adults, especially regarding the relationship between parents, taxpayers, and the school board, is gross negligence on the part of President Forgey. The good news is that there is a school board election coming up this year, and Joe is up for re-election. In the meantime, H.B. 1130 must pass the Senate and be signed into law by Governor Holcomb. I have little confidence in the Governor on a host of issues. He is far more interested in bowing to the teachers’ unions than talking with parents and taxpayers to understand their concerns when it comes to education. One fight at a time. First, let’s get this through the Senate.

Thank you, Representative Goodrich, for leading the way with H.B. 1130.

Elijah Condellone

Noblesville