Cyber censure: School board asks White to resign over social media comments

January 2018 Posted in Community, School

By Paula Mabry

It’s a common axiom in the United States that everyone has a right to their own opinion. It’s even a given one has the right to express their opinion. But where, and how, there’s the rub.

For Silver Falls School District Board Member Todd White the where has been through social media channels. It’s the how that has – once again – gotten him into a position of public rebuke.

White, who was officially censured by the school board for his social media commentary in December 2016, was the focus of a new complaint in December 2017. There was a packed district conference room Jan. 8 to follow the complaint review to its resolution.

Dana Smith, a former board member and current Silverton City Councilor, acting as a private citizen, lodged a complaint Dec. 11 citing White’s social media forum comments and emails. Smith had been a target of White’s commentary.

Smith charged White with not adhering to the board’s code of conduct and submitted testimony – including printouts of conversation threads – for board review.

In March 2017 Smith agreed to a $100 civil penalty after she neglected disclose during a council meeting that she had financial interest in a property applying to connect to the city sewer main. She voted on the connection. The matter was reviewed by the Oregon Ethics Commission, and the penalty concluded the commission’s interest. It didn’t conclude White’s.

“It’s not about expressing your opinion,” fellow board member Tim Roth told White, “It’s how it’s done.”

Board Member Shelly Nealon said it was a matter of  cyberbullying. She noted the board had standards of conduct.

“We are accountable to the standards,” she said. Adding that they expect students, teachers and staff to adhere to them.

Nealon urged the board to distance itself from White’s behavior.

Board Member Tom Buchholz acknowledged it was a continuation of some of the issues that led to the original censure.

“That’s just not how you communicate your views in public… Not how elected officials should act,” he said.

With the 2016 censure the board passed a resolution that posed the possibility of a call for White’s resignation for any future offenses.

On Jan. 8 that’s just what came to pass, with the board voting 5 – 2, with White and Ron Valoff dissenting, to call for White to step down.

Valoff explained he was “disappointed, extremely disappointed” by White’s comments. “But I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. I’m not willing to say it’s time for him to step down.”

“I believe everything I said was 100 percent accurate and true,” White told the board. “You can ask, but I don’t think I should.” Following the vote he reiterated “I don’t plan to resign.” His term runs through 2019.

During the subsequent public comment portion of the meeting several members of the audience spoke on the issue. For the full meeting go to vimeo.com/250325736.

Following the meeting, with no further board action on the matter envisioned, audience members began to talk of recall.

Silverton resident Laurie Chadwick said eight volunteers stepped forward that evening. As of press time, the procedures and costs of a recall were still being investigated by the group. 

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.