Letter From Prominent Attorney Charlie L. Berger Taking To Task EVSC Officials For Not Doing The People’s Business In The Open
September 18, 2020
Mr. Jeff Worthington
President of Board of Trustees
Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation
951 Walnut Street
Evansville, Indiana 47713
Dear President Worthington:
I have reviewed the website for the EVSC. There is no listing for the upcoming budget. I searched by the EVSC search engine and no budget material comes up. The bond discussion at the last meeting is not found on the web site and no details of the expenditures are present and are surely not easily accessible. Your corporation operates in the dark and not in the public landscape. There are no budget hearings to hear where the money is to be spent and the reason for the expenditures. If you view the other governmental bodies like the City or County Councils, those budgets are very open and subject to hearings and discussions so that policies and disclosures can be more fully debated and explained. Why does your board not ask all of the folks requesting funds with the over-inflated salaries come before your body to justify what is being done so the public can hear what they do and where the money is spent?
The public is entitled to an open discussion and availability of the details of the budget especially since your budget is the largest. The lack of transparency is disturbing. You do not question the administrative staff that is working for your corporation in any manner to justify the allotting of funds. I have never received any detail on how you and the rest of the trustees justify the expenditure of funds in the underserved community. I asked for this information over a year ago and was told it does not exist. You and the other board members could make this happen if you had a concern about alleviating the disparities in the schools.
The removal of public comment from your agenda under the cover of an Executive Order of the Governor is additional proof of the lack of any interest to make the operation of the EVSC an open and welcoming process. The interpretation that you have relied upon is merely a mask that you and the other board members hide behind so that the public is shielded from the truth. The City and County do not operate in such secrecy.
The recent refusal of your board to provide COVID-19 virus information to the students, parents, and staff borders on reckless disregard for the emotional health and physical health of the students, parents, and staff. I have received emails and letters and had discussions with the staff members about their fears in working in the secret environment your board has endorsed. The staff members and parents are fearful of their own status to speak out. The history of the EVSC hierarchy to be difficult and unreceptive to any sort of constructive criticism is long ongoing. The fear of retribution is how the EVSC operates without disclosing to the public information that should be easily available. From the staff, I have encountered there is a sense of hopelessness that anyone in the EVSC headquarters is looking out for them.
I am here to urge you and the other board members to get your heads out of the sand. COVID-19 virus is real and dangerous. Your hiding of information which is not violative of any HIPA restrictions is shocking. The EVSC is not your corporation. It is the community’s school corporation.
I hope that one day the Board will stop sitting there as the pawns of its Superintendent. You and the other board members should begin to take ownership of your role instead of letting the Administrative Staff being in complete control.
Charles L. Berger-Attorney At Law