School board members should communicate with constituents and the media

This letter was sent to the Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education on Tuesday, January 4, 2022.

January 4, 2022
Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education
610 Alta Vista Street
Santa Fe, NM 87505

Kate I. Noble, President, via email: knoble@sfps.k12.nm.us
Rudy N. Garcia, Vice President, via email: rudygarcia@sfps.k12.nm.us
Sarah Boses, Secretary, via email: sboses@sfps.k12.nm.us
Dr. Carmen L. Gonzales, Member, via email: cagonzales@sfps.k12.nm.us
Sascha Guinn Anderson, Member, via email: sasanderson@sfps.k12.nm.us

Dear Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education,

Transparency in government extends beyond open meetings and records. It requires that public
officials openly communicate with the public they serve. The policy within the Santa Fe Public School
Board prohibiting rank-and-file members from making public statements, and instead relying on the
school board president to be the sole spokesperson for the entire body, is fundamentally at odds with
the principles of transparency and accountability.

This policy is problematic for a myriad of reasons. It prevents meaningful public discourse, limits a
diversity of perspectives and aims to stifle dissent. Complex problems, like those facing the school
system in Santa Fe, are best solved when multiple opinions and proposals are considered.
Furthermore, barring elected officials from expressing their views could have a chilling effect on free
speech and sets a dangerous precedent.

Santa Fe Public School board members have each been duly elected by the parents, teachers and
citizens of their respective districts. They have been selected to represent their voters and give voice
to the electorate of their district. In choosing to remain silent, these board members are effectively
muting their own constituencies. This is a disservice to the public and a dereliction of duties.

We request the immediate repeal of this policy, and we strongly urge all school board members to
fulfill their commitment to constituents, faithfully uphold their oath of office and communicate with
the communities they serve.

Sincerely,
Shannon E. Kunkel
Executive Director

Cc: Jessica Pollard, The New Mexican, via email: jpollard@sfnewmexican.com
Inez Russell Gomez, The New Mexican, via email: igomez@sfnewmexican.com
Julie Ann Grimm, Santa Fe Reporter, via email: editor@sfreporter.com
Tazbah McCullah, KSFR, via email: tmccullah@ksfr.org