ARIZONA CITY — A larger than normal crowd expressed concerns about potential conflict of interest at a local school board meeting.
The reason for the large crowd at the Toltec School District’s monthly Governing Board meeting on Nov. 7 at Arizona City Elementary School was mainly an action item that, if approved, would allow Superintendent Denise Rogers to add her husband to her insurance plan.
The action item stated that Rogers proposed that her husband, Allen Rogers, be added to her existing insurance plan beginning Jan. 1 in exchange for services.
Ultimately, after multiple parents and teachers addressed the board about their concerns, Rogers requested that the item be removed from the agenda.
According to Rogers, her husband has provided services such as emergency bus driver as well as providing “security” services for the past five years.
Many parents and teachers had concerns about this particular proposal, citing a lack of transparency as well as a possible conflict of interest within the district.
One of the parents at the meeting, Brian Feldmeier, brought up the question of whether Allen Rogers is employed by the school board as well as raising concerns about what kind of precedent could be set if the board approved the item.
“If Mr. Rogers is not an employee of the Toltec School District, why is a non-employee being permitted to transport students?” Feldmeier asked during the public discussion portion. “Were parents notified that someone not employed with the district was transporting their child? I’m a parent, not an educator, so my hope is that decisions made by the school board are what is best for the students.”
Karin Prock raised similar concerns about the agenda item but spoke on behalf of the teachers and the support staff of the district.
Prock asked the superintendent why she was creating a position for her husband, citing that the district office is “already top heavy.”
“Both of our schools are understaffed, and because of that, we have teachers that are with students all day, dealing with increased behavioral issues,” Prock said. “Teachers are having to cover classes on their own lunchtime because we don’t have enough coverage. Additionally, we have teachers who are ill and still feel compelled to come to work sick because of the lack of coverage in our schools.”
In response to the comments from attendees, Rogers said that she was “surprised” by the number of concerns regarding the issue. Ultimately, due to those concerns, Rogers suggested removing the item from the agenda.
“My part as superintendent is to never take advantage of anyone or take away from anyone else,” she said. “This was not a position that I came up with, these were some of the talents that he has and he put into our district. There hasn’t been anything done that would harm the district. But I respectfully ask for this to be removed, because this is not and has never been my intent.”
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