Lack of transparency and accountability ultimately hurts students

Although Columbus Academy publicly seeks nominations for prospective members of the Board of Trustees, new Board members are ultimately chosen in secret by existing members of the Board. As you might expect, this creates an environment that is conducive to neither independent thought nor effective oversight.

Contrast this to the school board for your local public school district. There, school board members are elected by residents–whether or not they have children attending school.

Why allow residents to elect school board members? Because it creates accountability and allows parents to have a voice in the direction of their children’s education. We’ve seen, for example, parents successfully push back against Critical Race Theory in their public school district by electing new school board members who pledged to oppose such indoctrination.

At Columbus Academy, lack of transparency and accountability is readily visible at all levels–from the way the Board of Trustees selects new members all the way down to the way the Athletic Department hires new coaches.

In just the past year, at least seven (of 19) head varsity coaches have either been fired or have resigned. In seeking their replacements, Columbus Academy publicly advertised only a handful of these positions. Among the head coaching positions that were not publicly advertised before being filled:

All three of these coaches possesses limited prior coaching experience. And again, all three head coaching positions were filled with no public solicitation. If the goal is deliver the best possible experience for our children, why not publicly advertise openings and seek the most qualified candidates?

The same has been true on the academic side. We’ve seen, for example, how employees and administrative costs have ballooned over the years:

Columbus Academy’s Diversity and Community Life Office has grown to no less than four full-time employees.

All of us are familiar with any number of ill-conceived construction projects on campus. For example, problems with the floor in Columbus Academy’s field house rendered it virtually useless and necessitated its replacement less than one year after the facility opened.

The list goes on and on. Yet, parents and donors continue to have little idea about where their dollars are being spent.

We’ve also seen how challenging it has been to get real answers to curricular questions. Pro CA Coalition has been seeking answers regarding Columbus Academy’s Critical Race Theory curriculum for months. Yet, only this past weekend did the school release a statement in response. The statement contained numerous misleading claims. And significantly, Columbus Academy refused to participate a moderated town hall discussion that would have allowed the type of interactive question-and-answer necessary to truly understand the issues raised.

In a functioning organization, the Board of Trustees would oversee the administration of the school and act to correct such mismanagement. And if the Board failed to do so, stakeholders (in this case parents) could replace Board members with new ones who would have the courage to act. Yet here, because the Board is not subject to election, members are free ignore the concerns of parents and act in lockstep with school administration.

At Pro CA Coalition, we believe students and parents deserve better. That is why we propose an overhaul of the structure of the Board of Trustees to allow parents to vote on new members. Only by creating an effective accountability and oversight structure can we truly ensure school administration remains focused on the best interests of our children and not on their own agenda.