Concerns in Canyons School District brings heat to upcoming election
There's been no shortage of controversy in the Canyons School District since its bitter split with the Jordan School District in 2009.
Some constituents have accused Superintendent David Doty of treating teachers unfairly. The district has tussled with the State Office of Education over testing policies. And others in the community have suggested the district's administration needs to improve its communication with parents.
So it's no surprise that the race to choose three new members for the Canyons Board of Education on Nov. 6 has become heated.
In Precinct 1, engineer and parent of three Robert Green faces incumbent Mont Millberg.
Two newcomers, community activist Nancy Tingey and Clay Pearce, a teacher and administrator, are campaigning for the open seat in Precinct 3.
And in Precinct 7, Chad Iverson is challenging incumbent Paul McCarty's seat.
Candidates and constituents alike have voiced concerns about a lack of communication between the board and the community.
"The school board is not listening to the public and not telling the public what's going on," said Iverson, a businessman. He cited an initiative the board is currently trying to pass with a new code of ethics that calls for the board to be open with the public. But the code contradicts itself, he said, when it states that the board "does not deal directly with individual subordinate staff members on specific problems."
Overall, he said, "There has been a lack of transparency with the school board."
Iverson in April called for an independent investigation of misconduct allegations against Doty. Iverson claimed former district employees complained that Doty uses bullying and intimidation to maintain control allegations disputed by the administration.
McCarty, Iverson's opponent, said he works to be open with his constituents, proven through the monthly meetings he holds in his precinct to answer questions and go over decisions made in recent board meetings. An elementary school principal and professor at BYU, McCarty said his experiences help prepare him to make complicated decisions about the future of education in the district.
"I feel very strongly that I'd be in touch with my constituents, my parents, my teachers, my students. [I] constantly have my hand on the pulse of the community," said McCarty.
But Iverson said that's his plan, too. "I would work really hard to do a better job of sharing with the public the board's decision making process." He said the board gives the appearance of having discussed issues before public meetings occur, leading to a meeting that's really just put on for show.
"I feel like there's been a lot of decision making outside of the public meetings and that needs to change," he said.
An example of this being, Iverson said, was this spring when the allegations against Doty were resolved in private. Iverson started a petition that 1,300 people signed asking for an investigation.
McCarty said that the board has "thoroughly" investigated the claims against Dotybut the investigations were conducted out of the public's eye because of privacy laws.
"We can't go around doing a public investigation on this type of thing," he said.
McCarty is adamant that Doty is a capable and successful leader and that the bad press he's gotten as superintendent is just thatbad press.
"[Doty] has been portrayed in the public very unfairly," McCarty said. "He is a great man."
McCarty said as a board member he is first and foremost responsible to students. "I see myself as a child advocate, not a politician," he said.
Iverson said he is a concerned parent who wants his four children and all of the children in Canyons to get the best education possible.
Canyons board of education candidates
Canyons school board 1
Mont L. Millerberg (incumbent)
Canyons school board 3
Canyons school board 7
Paul J. McCarty (incumbent)