Zip It, Disobedient Jill Humpherys!

We have a new member of the Gilbert Public Schools Hall of Shame — Board member Jill Humpherys, who is campaigning to retain her seat on the board in the November 2014 election. [Applause.] 

Arizona has a lot of little things called laws that regulate conduct of candidates and their surrogates at election time. We aren’t going to catalog those here (bet you just sighed with relief!) but we will discuss ethics and proper conduct of elected officials in their official capacities. This kind of discussion arises naturally when a public official holds herself out as a paragon of virtue.

Those who would confer sainthood on Jill Humpherys for her service on the GPS governing board might be surprised to learn that their shining star is a very disobedient board member. We all know that there’s a lot of demand for obedience by the Powers That Be in Gilbert Public Schools. Yeppers, it’s really hard to balance the portrait of St. Jill, who plays to a crowd at each board meeting, with the reality that former interim superintendent said to stop a specific behavior during board meetings back in August 2013.

St. Jill just couldn’t stop herself from her naughty, disobedient ways that were garnering such approval from her masters and acolytes. Perhaps disobedience as a board member is simply alluring to someone who really, terribly, desperately wants to stay on the GPS board.* It must be difficult to resolve the tension between your upbringing that stresses obedience to authority and the countervailing demands that are conditions of adoration from your puppet masters. We also suspect it’s harder to actually think on your feet (or from your seat on the dais) than it is to read from educrat dogma, but that’s digressing again.

Lest ye disbelieve, we assure you that there’s documentary evidence to back us up. Here is Jack Keegan’s famous Friday memo to the board, politely telling St. Jill to knock it off:

Board Agenda Report
This board agenda you will notice that the section marked board activity report has been changed to board committee report. The purpose of these types of reports from board members is to focus on anything that the rest of the board needs to know about your committee assignments. While it is nice to inform people about visiting schools it is not something the general public is really looking for. If you attend a conference it is during this part of the report to say what you learned, but keep it specific to what was learned not that it was just a wonderful conference. Otherwise, that gives the impression that people just go to these for enjoyment. I’m not trying to discourage people from going to the conference, quite the opposite; I think it’s very important for the board to attend conferences because you will learn a lot about what other districts are doing as well as some of the legal constraints that all school districts are under. I would just keep the discussion, specifically to the points of what was picked up at the conference just the high priority items if there were. And don’t feel that if you go to one that you also feel you have to report on it. [emphasis added] [punctuation marks, or lack thereof, are in the original memo]

We have to admit that the June 10, 2014 board meeting was difficult. There was a faction of the community that really, really wants to be taken seriously as the voice of citizens, but they lack awareness of the echo chamber they inhabit. These folks are intolerant of any beliefs but their own, and they sort of want to provoke a knock-down, drag-out fight, but they’ve been dissuaded by their own ineffectualness thus far. They don’t understand that their rights of free speech have limits, especially when their silly antics disrupt an educational institution. [Oh gee, we just brought state laws into the conversation again. Sorry.]

During the June 10th board meeting, we endured St. Jill’s explanation of why she didn’t become a teacher (it was hard work), so she became a full-time mother for decades. The audience also was subjected to St. Jill’s thinly veiled threat about *Mother Bears* arising to oppose decisions the GPS Governing Board might make … if the Mother Bears don’t like the votes. Sheeesh. None of this was relevant to the business of governing GPS, but this is what St. Jill does.

A real doozy occurred during a discussion about an agenda item for the board president to set the agenda for board meetings (which is the norm for school boards across the nation, but GPS changed the policy a couple of years ago  to bolster Dave Allison’s power).  St. Jill started yelling as she read a manifesto about the board’s role (go ahead and watch Clip 1 of 3 below). St. Jill had points of order called on her, but she would not stop reading aloud. She raised her voice again when the board president questioned the relevance of what St. Jill was reading. Then in Clip 2 of 3, watch board member Julie Smith school St. Jill in board member responsibilities. Funny, Julie Smith was saying pretty much what Jack Keegan had told board members in his memo.

If you really want some fun, watch as St. Jill goes off about her visits to all 40 schools since she has been serving on the board (it’s at Clip 3 of 3). Board member Julie Smith brought up the inappropriateness and potential Open Meeting Law violations that accrue from St. Jill’s politicking at each board meeting. St. Jill said she couldn’t give any committee reports because she isn’t on any committees. [Great way to take up your share of the burden of governance, St. Jill!] Jill told the board president she checked with Dr. Rice about her antics on the dais (conveniently forgetting the directive from Dr. Keegan?). Actually, this all sounds like a pre-teen kid who goes to Dad for permission after Mom told her she couldn’t do something.

When you watch St. Jill in action, remember that you could have had Westie as Interim Superintendent. What would be the chances of St. Jill’s disobedience in that situation? Right! Zip, zilch, nada. Westie zips zippers high and tight! [We award Leroy Jethro Gibbs the Oscar for best “high and tight” in show business.]

The video excerpt containing all three clips is available at the bottom of this post.

Big Fat Asterisk: Why staying on the board is so important might be unfathomable to regular folks. It’s unpaid, unappreciated and unfulfilling if you expect to be lauded for your efforts. We do, however, understand the logic of running for an elected position in order to make a difference in the world. That’s cool. Maybe there are reasons we don’t understand; maybe the allure of enriching fellow travelers with taxpayer money is enticing beyond normalcy.

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