Now the school board wants to silence citizens?

The truth will set you free, it is said. But at Blue Earth Area Schools, the truth is in prison.

Which is not entirely the school district’s fault, but it is not blameless.

Blue Earth Area has been going through some internal and public struggles as it deals with the fallout of a “bullying” incident that occurred off campus at a party in Winnebago in October. “Bullying” should be translated in this instance to an alleged “beat down” of one of the school’s football players by four of his teammates. All four face charges.

Back at school, the foursome faced a 10-day suspension in November, and were declared ineligible for sports or leadership roles in school.

The first public outcry in the matter came with citizens declaring the school too lax on bullying, since the foursome was allowed to play in the state football quarterfinals. Now there is a backlash, with other citizens arguing the alleged perpetrators have been mistreated, punished by the school without having been proved guilty of anything.

Administrators and school board members are mum, because data privacy laws prohibit them from publicly discussing individual student discipline. So a major public relations storm and school policy dispute is trapped in secrecy. Some of the boys’ parents are speaking out, something that is helpful. Yet the main components of this matter remain rumors and speculation, not details and facts.

Worst of all was news this week that school board members may be trying to intimidate members of the public into not showing up at board meetings to ask questions and make comments. This is, of course, the opposite of what board members should want, unless their only concern is a superficial desire to avoid any embarrassment for the district. This kind of poor leadership will not help resolve anything.

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