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Letter to the Editor

 

Eric Locker, Owosso

6:08 pm

Independent Editor,

     Last week, Owosso Board of Education Vice President Shelly Ochodnicky spoke at the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners meetings. On Oct. 20, she identified herself as the Vice President of the Owosso Public Schools Board of Education. At one point, Ochodnicky stated “I am the governing body for our school district.” On Oct. 21, when sitting down at the microphone, Ochodnicky stated, “Shelly Ochodnicky, Owosso Board of Education.” Her Oct. 21 speech questioned the legality of our local health department’s guidelines, expressed belief that Shiawassee County has no legal requirement for quarantine/isolation and expressed that our county health director refused to answer questions.

     Owosso Board of Education Bylaw po0143.1, titled “PUBLIC EXPRESSION OF BOARD MEMBERS,” acknowledges that board members will sometimes make public statements on school matters. Consequently, the bylaw provides, “If the statements imply, or if the readers (listeners) infer, that the opinions expressed … are the official positions of the Board, the Board members shall … make it clear that their views do not necessarily reflect the views of the Board ….” In short, a board member has the duty to disclose that their views are not the board’s views. By identifying herself as “Shelly Ochodnicky, Owosso Board of Education” and stating she is “the governing body of our school district,” Ochodnicky either (a) implied she spoke on the Board’s behalf or (b) allowed listeners to infer she spoke on the Board’s behalf.

     Without addressing the legitimacy of her legal squabbles or apparent opposition to quarantine/isolation, Ochodnicky’s statements violated po0143.1 – a bylaw she must follow. While Ochodnicky can only be removed from the board by formal recall procedures, po0152 provides that, “An officer may be removed for cause by a majority vote of the full Board.” I believe that Ochodnicky’s twice willful violations of po0143.1 satisfy “cause” and would allow the board to remove her as Vice President. Removal would place Ochodnicky as a board trustee and a new Vice President would be elected from the board’s membership. If Ochodnicky refuses to resign, I would recommend that the Owosso Board of Education move and vote “yes” on her removal to show that the board strictly adheres to their bylaws and has high standards of integrity. The Board must take action to ensure that public trust is maintained and that rogue members do not disparage the board’s image as a body constantly working for the benefit of students.

Sincerely,

Eric Locker, Owosso

Eric Locker, Owosso was last modified: November 2nd, 2021 by Karen Elford