Community must be given opportunity to voice concerns, ask questions
Nov. 14, 2016 (Hagåtña) — Citizens are calling the governor’s office concerned that the public hearing on the termination of Jon Fernandez isn’t public at all.
Guam Education Board Chairwoman Lou San Nicolas has said the public will not be allowed to participate in the so-called public hearing. Callers are angry, saying they are being deprived of their voices. San Nicolas and her Vice Chairwoman Rosie Tainatongo scheduled the public hearing to discuss Superintendent Jon Fernandez’s very controversial termination for 9 a.m. on Nov. 21 at the Superintendent’s office in Tiyan.
That time and location makes it difficult for many people to attend this public hearing.
Not only does this maintain the shroud of darkness over this entire process that started with a termination, it smothers the voices of those people who vote education board members into their seats.
Governor Calvo commented: “It’s with great dismay that we find the education community in this position. An issue that impacts the lives and education of tens of thousands of children and their families, as well as the future of this island, should be discussed openly and with transparency. I am calling on Chairwoman San Nicolas and Vice Chairwoman Tainatongo to move the meeting to a time and location that is more convenient to the people they serve — the students, teachers and parents — and to allow them to share their concerns.”
For more than a decade, the Education Board tried to encourage the community to participate in their meetings — participation for which was dismal for so long. As its role evolved from strictly policy to one with slightly broader responsibilities, members of the Education Board decided to move meetings to after the workday. In addition, the meetings would be held at schools — moving from school to school with each meeting to make it easier for each school community to participate in meetings. And it has helped.
That’s what makes this latest announcement about a morning meeting at an office baffling. It illustrates the continued lack of transparency in this so-called process that has become an apparent effort to terminate Fernandez.
GDOE board members must perform their jobs in the best interest of the community. They must hold open discussions about issues that affect our island and public school system. They also need to provide their constituents with compelling reasons behind their decisions. Failing these, they are not living up to their responsibilities and should reconsider their positions on the board.

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