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Letter to the Editor

"A Public Response to Very Public Reprimands"


web posted June 3, 2010
Dear Editor,
For the first time in our school’s history it has issued two very public resolutions.  What a bully technique to demand what they have no right to, and to deny me what I do have a right to and that is to defend myself.  There are basically 3 charges leveled against me by the “FCHS board” at large:

1)    MS. STEWART IS USING AN EMAIL ADDRESS INDEPENDENT OF THE EDGEFIELD.K12 SERVER, WHICH IS” ILLEGAL”

Response

To allege that the use of an email address outside of the Edgefield.K12 server is illegal is nonsense and if I am or the CSC is guilty, so is every parent or member of the community.  Furthermore, I had no choice but to defer to the alternate address; after a year of intermittent communications via the Edgefield site, I learned that the school’s IT Director, Travis Gibson, had without my knowledge deleted me from the communications subcommittee contact list.  Interesting, since I am and have been the chair of that committee for years.  After grumblings reached me in September to the effect that I was not responsive to posting requests, I inquired of Mr. Gibson as to the cause of the problem and he ignored my inquiry.  I did not learn until May that he had tampered with the distribution list so we had to resort to the separate email address to avoid further hindrance.

I would like to emphasize, the CSC was NOT getting posting requests and Travis Gibson did NOT respond to our inquiry.  Any requests submitted to the csc@fchs.edgefield.k12.us address did NOT reach me.  Over the last year, it has been a struggle obtaining information to be posted on the web.  Largely, we had to gather information from the public domain or from local reporters.  You can imagine that the time needed to assemble this information was unreasonably protracted but essential in order to maintain the website.

Conclusion:  THERE IS NOTHING ILLEGAL OR UNETHICAL about the SIC maintaining an email system by a separate internet service provider.

2)    NO ONE AT THE SCHOOL HAS THE PASSWORD TO THE WEB SITE

Response

Some history:  In October 2009, the school’s IT Director, Travis Gibson accessed the site and without authority and without our knowledge, deleted four years’ worth of EMAIL communications, EMAIL addresses and digital photographs.  Additionally, he changed the password in an attempt to deny the CSC access to the site.  Because the domain name is paid for with private funds, it is registered in the name of the paying party, not the school and our right of access was restored.  Mr. Gibson acted without proper authority and these actions constitute illegal data destruction and attempted hostile takeover.  Mr. Gibson refused to reconstruct and return the destroyed material.

Nevertheless, until late March of 2010, the CSC consistently provided the school access so long as Mr. Gibson was banned from accessing the site.  As a matter of fact, Lisa Chapman, the school’s media specialist, performed much of the web maintenance until leaving the school in December.  It was not until a routine annual and mandatory password update in March that the password was changed.  With the announcement that the school had established an independent site, there appeared no need to share access to the SIC site.  It was not until Ms. Bishop demanded that the write-in candidate names be removed from the site that it became an issue.  The legality of the posting of these names is a matter for legal debate and is not solely within the determination of the board of directors. 

There is no wrongdoing on the foxcreekhs.org website; it was set up by the SIC CSC to “look like the school’s site” and was run by the CSC at the school’s request.  The website has, in fact, been used for nothing but the school’s business.  The CSC has conducted itself in a manner just and proper to the best interests of the school and surrounding community, while refusing to pander to any particular special interest.  The school is and always was free to establish a separate site and run it as it deemed appropriate. 

Conclusion:  THERE IS NOTHING ILLEGAL OR UNETHICAL about the SIC CSC obtaining and maintaining an independent website. 

3)     FEATURING WRITE-IN CANDIDATES ON THE WEBSITE IS AN ABUSE OF POSITION

Response

The CSC featured all candidates once announced, whether by ballot or by write-in; to do so was their responsibility, to do otherwise would have been a violation of campaign ethics.  How do you justify penalizing someone because of their volunteer work?  All candidates were treated fairly and equally.  In reality, to remove the write-in candidate names would have elevated the ballot names to that position of unfair name recognition complained of by the board chair.  Ms. Bishop sought to enforce a rule that does not exist, a clear conflict of her candidacy and an abuse of her position as board chair. 

Furthermore, the high lighting of the candidate names was nothing more than a link to that candidate’s bio and was also done for all 4 ballot candidates with no bias whatsoever.

Conclusion:  THERE IS NOTHING ILLEGAL OR UNETHICAL about featuring announced candidates on the website, whether ballot candidates or write-in candidates.
 
The charges are without merit; the fact that the public reprimands appeared only on the day of elections (within six feet of the polling area) and in a manner denying my right to respond suggests their true nature - they are bogus and were intended for nothing more than to assassinate my character and throw the election (a poor strategy).  The voting base should suspect they’ve been duped by now.  May 13th was a definite win but May 27th was a loss for everybody because there is no victory in the absence of honor.  To call it gutter politics is to insult the gutter.  I am pursuing recourse but this board should do a little housekeeping of their own; FCHS and the surrounding community deserve better.

Susie Stewart
(Write-in candidate for FCHC School Board)







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