The filing of two more Open Meeting Law complaints by Gloucester city school parent Jason Grow against the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School may seem to some like a case of nit-picking. And that's especially true considering the Attorney General's office essentially gave the school's trustees a tap — not even a slap — on the wrist when similar issues surfaced two years ago.
The truth is, Grow's complaints target one of the school's biggest credibility problems: time and time again, its board of trustees shows no sense of public accountability. That's a significant problem for a school whose biggest selling point is that it is a free and very public alternative for parents and students who prefer it over the traditional city school system.
In this case, while Executive Director Tony Blackman may have had every right to let go Head of School Jody Ziebarth, as state school officials confirm, any move to eliminate her budgeted position should have been carried out in public, with a chance for parent input. And a trustees' evaluation of Blackman's professional performance, like that of any equivalent school superintendent, must be a matter of public record as well. It's not — and that's a big problem.
The AG's office and the state Department of Education may well give the school another pass. But the trustees should realize by now that, as leaders of a public school, they must abide by public access laws.
The more they operate in secret, the more they isolate the school's own parents, let alone the community. And that's not in anyone's interest.