|School board members must live up to oath
John R. Piper 12:03 a.m. ET Dec. 31, 2016
Carl Paladino’s recent remarks regarding President Obama and Michelle Obama merit a response from the Monroe County School Boards Association and our school board members across the region.
The Buffalo Board of Education has called for his resignation. In turn, Mr. Paladino believes that the board’s action is “not an illustration of a profile in courage or leadership.”
As elected school board members, we share a critical role in overseeing the education of our children. Our residents chose us to be a part of the largest group of elected officials in New York state. As board of education members, we are larger than the New York state Legislature, and are held to the same standards as any official in New York state.
We all took an oath of office in which we solemnly swore to “uphold the New York State Constitution and faithfully fulfill the duties of the office” to which we were elected. In our region, school board members act as a leader and role model to the children of each district. Board members strive to build up our faculty and staff and work together with parents, not tear down individuals with our words or actions.
Everything in leadership starts at the top. I know that to be true from having worked in the business world and serving as a CEO in my career. Every action you take as an elected board member is closely watched by everyone in your district. Great school district board members continuously empower, listen and learn from everyone around us in our district.
That being said, I hold elected officials, particularly members of boards of education, to a higher standard than the citizens we represent. The privilege of our office, serving at the will of our residents, does not allow us to speak out randomly.
The hat we wear as elected school board members never comes off; that’s how it is for elected officials. We bite our tongue in many cases since we represent many causes in our role, not our own individual agenda or cause. As leaders, we must exhibit much patience in our role, knowing everything will not always go as we think it should go.
That’s really what courage and leadership is all about.
John R. Piper is president of the Monroe County School Boards Association and president of the Penfield Central School District Board of Education.