Questions persist; SBCSC Board Presidents emails released, redacted

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – It was supposed to be vindicating, for Roger Parent (President of the South Bend Community School Corporation Board of Trustees) that is, but now the question remains the same as it was before.

Was Parent being discriminatory toward older teachers when he wrote, “I strongly suggest the two older teachers be ‘gently escorted out of the classroom’,” in an email to Superintendent Carole Schmidt in early August.

In the same email, Parent would go on to insist that two younger highly acclaimed teachers be hired in their place.

Parent has denied the comments were driven by the age of the teachers and instead by their performance.

He claims, the two older teachers were not performing as well as the younger teachers and that the younger teachers should be retained in their place because of it.

On August 20, when we confronted Parent about his comments, he said that we needed to see the whole conversation to understand the context of it.

Wednesday we received copies of all email conversations linked to this issue involving Parent, members of the School Board, and the Superintendent.

Nearly all of the emails were heavily redacted.

The school district indicated the redactions were allowed because of State statute 5-14-3-4 (b)(6), which says in part: [Records] that are expressions of opinion or are of a speculative nature, and that are communicated for the purpose of decision making..” do not have to be shared with the public.

At least two entire emails, with multiple paragraphs were completely redacted. Several others had 90 percent or more of them hidden from view.

Ultimately, the non-redacted portions gave insufficient information as to the context of the original statement.

In fact that statement was redacted on the school district provided copy.

We met with Parent on Wednesday and showed him the redacted emails.

He explained that the proposed redactions were presented to him, but that he did not look at them; instead informing the attorney’s that he did not have the time to do so.

He told us, he assumes the redactions were appropriate, but cannot know for sure.

When he was asked if he would be willing to turn over the original emails to prove his intentions, he declined. “No that’s a long gone issue for me at this point, I’m on to other things, we have a lot of business to conduct,” said Parent.

Parent is one of several board members up for reelection this November.

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