SANDY — Two Canyons School Board members took opposite positions Friday in the push for an investigation into the management practices of the superintendent.
Board member Steven Wrigley told the Deseret News that he is not aligned with a board statement supporting Superintendent David Doty that was released on Tuesday, and he favors a request for an independent investigation into the district.
"I felt then, and even more urgently now, that in order to restore public confidence in the district and administration, the board needs to seriously consider the public's request for an independent survey or investigation to address the concerns being expressed," Wrigley said in a prepared statement.
Wrigley said Friday he wanted to make sure his constituents knew where he stood following a statement attributed to the board as a whole but that did not list supporting board members' names individually. The statement was read during a school board meeting Tuesday.
A division within the district separates those who support the school district's top leadership and those who accuse its leaders of creating an atmosphere of intimidation.
Former executive director and principal Trenton Goble told the board on Tuesday he had no avenue to voice his concerns and lived in fear of retribution if he spoke out. Sunrise Elementary principal Frank Schofield said allegations against Doty are mere resistance to change.
But a split on the school board became evident after Wrigley's statement, and one that followed later in the day in response to an email seeking comment.
"I absolutely DO NOT support an investigation," board member Kim Horiuchi said in an email. "There is nothing to investigate. From the inception of Canyons School District, our board has been focused on getting our students college- and career-ready and preparing them to compete in an increasingly competitive global marketplace."
She concluded the statement by writing, "Mr. Wrigley is pursuing a different agenda, which he can explain on his own."
The statement read by board member Paul McCarty during Tuesday's meeting said the board "would like to reiterate its full and unequivocal support of Superintendent David Doty. We are his direct supervisors, and for four years have worked closely with him as he has led our district."
But Wrigley said there is an "ever-increasing number of comments that are being posted in the media by concerned parents, (district) employees and others" and that individual board members need to be accountable for their positions.
"I was one of the minority votes who did not support the statement that was read at Tuesday's board meeting," Wrigley stated.
Contacted for further comment Friday, Wrigley declined to elaborate.
The request given to the board on Tuesday for an anonymous survey of employees and an independent investigation came from school board candidate Chad Iverson, who is running against McCarty, who is seeking re-election this year.
Iverson started an online petition a week ago that spells out the requests for an investigation. It had grown to more than 1,160 signatures as of Friday afternoon.
Doty said on KSL Newsradio's "Doug Wright Show" Wednesday that he did not see the need for a survey of district employees. "I have a big problem with anonymous surveys," he said.
As for an investigation, "If the board feels that's necessary, of course I will be willing to do that," Doty said. "Am I going to initiate it myself? No."
On Friday, Doty's secretary said he was unavailable for comment.
Dow Jones, a member of the Canyons School District Education Foundation board, which raises money for the district, said he opposes both an investigation and a survey. He dismissed the concerns raised by parents, teachers and administrators as a vocal minority resistant to change.
"You can't run a company by popular vote," he said. "People might feel like they've been censored or pushed back when they don't share the same opinion."
Many of the allegations, however, are not a response to district change or policy. Several people at Tuesday's meeting — and others online — accused Doty and district leaders of intimidation and said they had nowhere to turn for help.
When asked about those concerns, Dow said he still opposed an anonymous survey of employees. He said it would not be appropriate and could become a "witch hunt."
"Will the vocal minority outweigh the silent majority that just wants to wake up in the morning and send their kids to school?" he asked.
Kim Schoenbrunn, a mother and co-president of the Brighton High School Parent Teacher Student Association, said she doesn't know if the allegations are true or not but they are serious enough to justify an investigation. She said she's heard about things going on in the district that worry her and an anonymous survey would allow employees to speak freely without fear of repercussion.
Wrigley said his point of view is in the minority on the board. "I recognize that I am speaking only as one member of the board but feel that as an elected official, I have a duty to be responsive to those whom I was elected to serve."
The board censured one of its members, Kevin Cromar, in September, accusing him of undermining Doty and spreading allegations about a fellow board member. Attempts to reach Cromar, McCarty and the other members of the board Friday by were not successful.
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