Missoula County Public Schools board member Mike Gehl reached out to KGVO News over the weekend to say he is alarmed over two incidents that he says occurred in recent meetings.

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Gehl congratulated MCPS Superintendent Rob Watson after his resignation and announcement that he was moving on in the world of Montana education.

“Superintendent Watson has turned in his resignation,” said Gehl. “He's going to finish out the school year and he's going to be moving on to bigger and better things for himself and I wish him the absolute best. The concern for me was in our meeting last Tuesday as we met, and immediately they're going to be pushing through to appoint an interim superintendent.”

Gehl said that Watson has already chosen an interim superintendent, but he was more concerned about an alleged comment from Superintendent Watson.

“A quote from him was ‘I will not ask the person to submit an interview or public vetting process with the board’, and I was a little alarmed by that,” he said. “I just thought perhaps if your listeners were as alarmed as I am, then would maybe they'll contact the public comment section and let their voices be heard about that. They (the board) gave us three potential dates this week. I haven't had that shored up. I don't know when that's going to be and I don't even know who the candidate is.”

KGVO has reached out to Superintendent Watson for clarification about Gehl’s statement.

One other incident that concerned Gehl was a policy regarding the introduction of ‘instructional materials’ not being subject to board approval.

“Another matter of concern for myself and one other board member that spoke up against it, was a section that reads, ‘the selection of other educational materials is not subject to board approval.’ In other words, the citizens of the community elect and appoint the board members and those board members should oversee the instructional material that happens in the schools, and this board policy is going to be changing that to where the board won't have supervisory authority over that material anymore.”

Following is section 2311 of the Missoula County School Board policy.

The provision of appropriate instructional materials is essential to an effective educational program. Every effort shall be made to provide to all students basic, quality materials in order to meet the established objectives of every class and course of study. The Superintendent shall establish procedures for the selection of instructional materials. The Board must approve and provide the necessary instructional materials used in the delivery of curriculum. Core instructional materials shall be selected by the Superintendent, or designee, and adopted by the Board prior to their use. The piloting of programs or materials may be authorized by the Superintendent for a period of no more than one school year prior to Board adoption. Materials approved for pilot programs shall be restricted to specified classes. Adopted materials in each curricular area shall be reviewed at intervals not exceeding five (5) years or in a manner consistent with the state’s standards revisions schedule. All adopted materials must support K-12 articulation and align with MCPS standards, benchmarks, and grade level expectations. Approved on: October 8, 2013.’

Gehl said the choice of textbooks comes under the purview of the board, but was concerned about the adoption of ‘instructional materials’.

“The law reads that textbooks are specifically designed or stated in statute that the board has supervisory authority over that,” he said. “But we're starting to split hairs a little bit. Now instead of just saying textbooks we're going to be saying other educational materials, and we're going to be taking that authority away from the board and leaving that up to staff and administration.”

Gehl told KGVO in a recent interview that one fellow board member vowed to not meet again in person ‘as long as he was on the board’.

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