Christopher Rowan, a Trustee, resigned this morning. The text of his resignation letter follows.
September 5, 2006
Ms. Gigi Bocanegra
I hereby resign from the ISM Board of Trustees. My reasons are as follows:
We have lost the confidence of many of our fellow parents. I have been in the US for several weeks but have followed the recent events as closely as possible, by phone and e-mail. Under the best of circumstances, it is often difficult to gauge the true majority view among parents. However, on the issues of governance and the Board's relationship with the Leadership Team, the "mail" indicates a steep loss of confidence. At this very critical time, I sense a reluctance on the part of the Board to engage with the parents, leadership team, and faculty, except at a time and in a format of our choosing. So far, we had one trustee at an emergency meeting on Monday afternoon, we chose not to participate in a faculty meeting on Tuesday afternoon, and we seem to be trying to over-manage the scheduling and configuration of other meetings, delaying a real engagement with the parents and faculty.
I've heard there are moves to call a Special Meeting, or to gather parents' signatures to recommend that the Board resign, or to dismiss the Board. I believe it is now important for the Board to seize the initiative and ask the parents to participate in a vote of confidence. If the Board passes such a vote, it should continue to govern, perhaps with a mid-course correction from the ongoing discussions. If not, I believe the Board should call an election of all ten trustees. I have written to the Board in further detail, outlining how this might work. One element of my proposal is "no more proxies." The key thing is, with parents' confidence in the Board in such doubt, we should be trying to discern the level of support we have, and taking action to change things if indeed we have lost the confidence of a majority. While I have seen some discussion of this proposal, I see much more resolution in the face of adversity than contemplation of whether we still have a mandate.
I think we have missed an opportunity to learn as a Board in moving so slowly to set up a Board retreat or other training in governance and communication. This might have been a chance to set an effective basis for communication with the Leadership Team, parents, and other stakeholders. As the Chair of the Education Committee, I was disappointed to see the Leadership Team and faculty members disengage from the Committee rather than bring its concerns to you or me first. In general, however, the Board does not put sufficient thought into how it will relate to the Leadership Team.
Heavy-handed execution of decisions: I did not participate in the Board's deliberations on Monday morning and still have few details of what went on in those proceedings. However, the manner in which the immediate termination of David Toze's contract was carried out is disrespectful to him and embarrassing to the school. "Let's not interfere with the kids" is a typical refrain for trustees, other parents, and other stakeholders when we engage in controversial discussions. However, in the present circumstances, a high school son of colleagues of mine worriedly told his mother that his teachers might not stay the year, and my own middle school daughter thought that Mr. Toze had been arrested. I am sure there are many other stories like this. We failed miserably in keeping this out of the children's consciousness.
cc: The Board of Trustees