How to talk to the school board (You’re doing it wrong)

If you complain to Superintendent Pam Homan at the grocery store, does she hear you?

What if you express an opinion to a school board member at work?

What if I quote someone criticizing the school board in an Argus Leader story? Does that count?

If you’re commenting on a school board policy, then no, none of that counts. This much was clear (kind of) at Monday’s school board meeting, when the board changed its policy on physical exams for student-athletes.

Board member Kate Parker, who serves on the policy review committee, introduced the policy change, concluding with: “The policy was posted for public review and no comments were received.”

Technically true. Apparently, no one went to this web page to read the new policy and submit formal comment to the superintendent. And no one spoke to the change during Monday’s meeting.

But that’s not to say everyone loves the new policy. I quoted Dr. Verle Valentine from Sanford Health on Feb. 20 saying it’s a bad idea to excuse middle school athletes from a physical examination.

A Sanford Health sports medicine doctor agrees with the goal but said he thinks exempting middle school athletes from physicals is a mistake.

“I certainly think that it is important to have sports physicals in middle school as well as high school,” Dr. Verle Valentine said.

Musculoskeletal problems and heart defects will be evident in either age group, and Valentine said it’s better to identify and treat them sooner than later.

Shannon Heinert read the story and made this comment on our site through her Facebook account:

a significant heart defect was found (by an intern at Orthopedic Institute after a track practice) in my now 18 year old as a result of these “not very effective” sports physicals. And my daughter had seen countless very good doctors through the years, including having regular physicals. I can tell you first hand, the $10 and 10 minutes might prove to well worth it. Many schools around the country are requiring more intense cardio work-ups before allowing sports participation… why would the SF School District want to take a step backward?

Meanwhile, Kate Parker’s co-workers at Sanford were saying to her such things as, “Is this a good thing that we’re basically ignoring the medical needs of middle school students?” (this is how Parker related those comments during a phone call this afternoon)

To Parker’s credit, after introducing the policy on Monday, she acknowledged that even though “no comments were received,” there are some critics.

“Some concerns were raised with the deletion of the middle school requirements for a physical,” Parker said by way of kicking off a discussion about the policy.

During that conversation, the following exchange took place:

Homan: “If I might state just for clarification, the middle school, as has been stated, was not ever in policy, it was in practice, and we did go through – and we have Mark Meile here tonight as well but – extensive discussions in the middle school level and there were no concerns or comments brought forward to the district office on this policy.”

Kent Alberty, board president: “Kate and Doug (Morrison) have registered their concerns with the policy, but you’re right, Dr. Homan, there were no concerns from the public in general on the policy. That is correct?”

Homan: “To my knowledge, yes.”

Alberty: “Yes. OK?”

Parker: “Not formal comments.”

Alberty: “Right.”

Well, I guess that settles it.