Arntzen Responds to AA Superintendents’ No Confidence Letter
Superintendents from all nine of Montana’s AA School Districts signed a letter dated December 6 stating that ‘we express no confidence in your leadership as Montana’s chief public school officer’.
KGVO reached out to Arntzen for her reaction to the letter, since one of incidents cited in the letter actually occurred in Missoula.
Arntzen told KGVO that she was responding to a group of parents and a member of the Missoula County Board of Trustees regarding several local issues in Missoula County School District One.
“When decisions are made in the boardroom and where parents may be excluded, and if a parental group invites the state elected superintendent to have a communication and visit with them, I've never shied away from that,” said Arntzen. “I believe that is my role is to listen.”
As has been reported on KGVO, a local attorney jestingly responded to a question about how to deal with the school board with the words ‘shoot ‘em?’, to which the crowd responded with laughter, however the remark sparked a storm of protest from the public and especially school officials.
Arntzen told KGVO at the time, and again in this interview, that she strongly condemned the statement.
“There are consequences to actions,” she said. “I did send out some really strong language after that unfortunate event at the church in Missoula, sharing that any, any, any manner that would be threatening to an individual doesn't have a place in education or in any of our communities.”
Arntzen said she believed the letter was not so much targeting her personally, but politically.
“There is no lobby group for parents, and where's the lobby group for students?” she asked. “I believe that this was heavy handed. I do not know how the letter was written or who was involved in the making of the letter, but in my mind, it was directly political. And if you look at the letter, where are students mentioned, and where is learning mentioned?”
Arntzen was also surprised that not one signer of the letter ever attempted to speak to her directly in person or by phone regarding the issues contained in the letter.
“Not one of those individuals that wrote and put their signature on that line ever called me; ever talked to any of our senior staff; ever visited with me about any of those issues,” she said. “And in politics, we call that blindsiding. So, if we're going to work together, and that's my message, let's mutually, number one, be civil, be respectful, and let's work together for the betterment of our children.”
Arntzen is serving her second term as the Superintendent of Public Instruction.