Mentor School Board Emails Revealed

September 23, 2022

LFC Comments by Brian Massie, average citizen looking for the truth

Transparency is the key to good governance. It appears to a fleeting ideal in the Mentor Public Schools! We see a severely divided School Board that aims to exclude conservatives Annie Payne and Tom Tuttle from the discussion and decisions.

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LFC received copies of a public records request made by a concerned citizen to the Mentor School Board asking for emails involving gender, transgender, and survey topics. The emails received were between Ms. Virginia Jescheinig, Board Member, and Craig Heath, the new school Superintendent.

Here are emails dealing with their policy manual:

On Mon, Aug 22, 2022, 10:52 AM Craig Heath <heath@mentorschools.org> wrote:

Ginnie,

Thank you so much for being here this morning for our Opening Day! I know it means so much to our entire staff to have our Board Members there to support them as we start a new year.

I spoke to Bill Wade this morning about the costs for the legal counsel piece with looking at our policy review process. We would have to see how many hours he put into this, but it could be pricey quickly. That is one of the reasons we have been talking about the complete overhaul of our Board Policies.

If we used a company like NEOLA, any policy changes are automatically reviewed by their team of attorneys prior to being sent to us for adoption. The policies are constantly updated when new legislation takes place, so we would never be out of compliance or completely off base from other districts in regards to the way we operate. We will have more conversation about that as we go throughout the year though!

I look forward to seeing you here tomorrow morning! I will send out the schedule here shortly!

Thanks,

Craig

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Craig

On Fri, Aug 19, 2022 at 3:17 PM Virginia Jeschelnig <Jeschelnig@mentorschools.org> wrote:

Thank you so much for your recap of the week, Craig. As far as the policy goes, I think leaving it as an administrative matter until the case law is settled makes perfect sense. If staff could be requested to avoid written questions regarding preferred pronouns, I think that will best protect students and staff from inadvertent issues.

As a side note, I noticed that Cleveland Clinic’s My Chart now asks that question. I am curious to know what the cost is for requesting a written policy review from our attorneys? I think that should be something that is done very rarely as my guess is that it could be quite expensive.

I don’t ever recall doing that in the past. Could you let us know when we have our quick meeting what that number might be. I think we should be mindful of those legal costs.

Have a great weekend! Ginnie

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Sent Date: 2022-08-15T11:49:05.000Z

Ginnie,

Thank you for the comments regarding the information in our Board Update this past week. There was certainly quite a bit to gather and research Wednesday morning through Friday afternoon!

We will continue to monitor the pronoun survey policy implications, but I was pleased to find out that it really was not an issue from a student and parent standpoint last year and that there does not seem to be an increase in teachers wishing to include that question in surveys this year.

We will get specific information on the Board Retreat and make sure we follow all Sunshine Law guidelines as we get closer to that date, but I would assume we will have other people present. [Emphasis added by LFC…they admit that the “Retreat” was a public meeting, but the violated the Sunshine Laws anyway.]

I sent the direct link to the dress code language this morning too. Sorry that didn’t work.

I will work with Tim Hamman and the principals today to get the first day of school plans set. I will send all Board Members the plan here in the next day or two. My Opening Day presentation will take place on Monday, August 22nd at 8:00 am in the Fine Arts Center. I will include that in my communication in the next day or two as well.

Hope you have a great Monday!

Craig

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On Fri, Aug 12, 2022 at 8:28 PM Virginia Jeschelnig <Jeschelnig@mentorschools.org> wrote: [LFC Add: To Craig Heath and Bill Wade, Treasurer]

Dear Craig and Bill, Thank you so much for the weekly updates. There’s quite a bit of good material to absorb. I appreciate the follow-up on all of those subjects. Good to know that there were no concerns raised by students or parents on that contentious topic. I find that an intriguing fact.

It will also be important to consider the potential public nature of such written communication and the implications of our standing policy. There may be some ramifications in regard to the new Title IX legislation that might prohibit that.

I know it was stated two or three times by the board member at our meeting that we had a duty to report such information to parents. In those same remarks, it was even suggested that it would be reasonable to forgo our federal funding if necessaryto appease those who support that view.

I have marked my calendar for the Board Retreat on Wednesday, September 21st from 5:30 – 8:30. Thank you for arranging this. I assume that is a public meeting and that we may have people present? [Emphasis added by LFC]

Thank you for getting that concession from the company to publish a book list for parents.

In response to the speaker who complained about the title The Librarian of Basra, it was an ALA Notable Book in 2006, and received a starred review in School library Journal. Additionally, during 2003 when the war commenced and the woman worked to save the books, Iraqi women were allowed to drive. Reviews * “This is an important story that puts a human face on the victims of war and demonstrates that a love of books and learning is a value that unites people everywhere.” – School Library Journal? “Winter isolates another true story of everyday heroism against a tragic backdrop. The librarian’s quiet bravery serves as a point of entry into a freighted topic. -Booklist “Timely and moving.” -Better Homes and Gardens “As spare yet penetrating as the narrative, Winter’s boldly hued, acrylic and pen illustrations depict the frantic book salvaging effort against a bright orange and burnt sienna backdrop of bomb- and gunfire-lit skies and the subsequent, heartbreaking library fire.” -Publishers Weekly “Created with strength and courage, like Alia’s devotion to the books in her charge.” -Kirkus —

I hope Craig’s cautionary paragraph regarding attorney-client privilege and discussing such matters with individuals outside the board office will be taken to heart. I suspect that there may be a meeting of citizens at a local church ahead of our board meetings. I don’t know if one of our members attends. However, the LakeCounty Rep. party sent out a notice to its membership on July 12th, urging them to attend our July board meeting that evening to support a board member who would be speaking about pronoun surveys (introduced by her under new business that evening), as well as books for the classrooms and their appropriateness for certain age levels.

The County Party Chair attended and additionally shared his opinion on the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

The cost for additional resource officers is certainly substantial. I am supportive of investing in that security measure but was hoping that perhaps some of the state money allocated for beefing up school safety might help us if we decide to go that route.

I couldn’t open the link for the dress code details.

(personal details of family matters were excluded by LFC)

Have a great weekend! Ginnie

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Sent Date: 2022-08-04T13:57:26.000Z

Subject: Re: Meeting Protocol & Safety

Dear Craig, This warms my heart to hear. I am so pleased that the frustrations that accompany these political issues seeping into districts across the state have not overshadowed the remarkable positives we cherish about our Mentor Public Schools.

18 years ago, when the district went through the financial crisis, I was the media specialist at Lake Elementary. So much was disrupted by the summer of 2004, and the18 library professionals of the Media Department were essentially scattered to the wind. Because I also had my certification in visual art, I accepted a transfer to Shore Middle School.

It was certainly an unexpected change, and I hadn’t taught art since 1977. I reminded myself that the students who would be enrolled in my classes deserved the very best art teacher I could be. I rolled up my sleeves and embraced this new opportunity. I took a trip to the Chicago Art Institute, immersed myself in exciting lesson ideas, and reached out to my two new Department colleagues.

To my surprise and ultimate delight, the last 9 years of my career were spent teaching art and feeling as happy as I had ever been. In fact, of all the grade levels I have taught K through 12, 7th grade became my favorite.

The point of all this is that circumstances can present challenges we didn’t expect, but can also offer fantastic opportunities. It’s all about perspective.

I see the challenges before us in school district governance as even more important. The children we serve need us to be at our best right now. This is their time. These are the years that will provide the foundation for their futures. By nurturing high staff morale and maintaining a robust and exciting school system that meets their needs, we do right by them.

Shielding those initiatives from the encroachment and negativity of an angry minority can feel difficult, but it is a job well worth doing. I’m proud to serve and grateful to have you as our superintendent. I know that the Mentor Public Schools will flourish in your very capable hands.

Let me know how I can help, and also know that I am very excited to see you put your special imprint on Mentor Schools. Public education matters!

Sincerely, Ginnie

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From: Craig Heath

Sent: Wednesday, August 3, 2022 5:16 PM

To: Virginia Jeschelnig

Cc: William Wade; Mary Bryner

[LFC observation: Why is the Superintendent excluding Annie Payne and Tom Tuttle from his emails? Perhaps only like-minded people are included in his communication?]

[LFC Comment: The following an excerpt of a rather lengthy email regarding Mr. Heath’s prior experience dealing with public comments at other public schools. Mr. Heath mentions Cheryl Ryan, of the Ohio School Board Association. [https://www.ohioschoolboards.org/] Ms. Ryan was at the Mentor School Board meeting that Mr. Heath would not allow me to video. It is interesting to this writer that Ms. Ryan was heading up the meeting, but said nothing publicly when Mr. Heath confirmed for me that he told me I could not record the meeting.

We are unfamiliar with this organization and, therefore, will be doing some research on them. We get the distinct impression that they are VERY influential in public schools and could be a major factor in getting the deceptive union/socialist message out to the various school boards.]

“I am working with Cheryl Ryan on scheduling a Board Retreat here in September and will have some information on that for the Board Update this Friday. I think that might be the best time to discuss this as a Board and get plans in place for our meetings moving forward. Thanks, Craig”

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Categories: Education, Lake County Cities & Townships, Mentor

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