In the interest of transparency, I am posting one of the e-mails received in relation to the decision to restart the naming process for the new school on Madison’s far West side. I also am posting my response, which shares the reason for my apology to the Hmong community on Monday night, and also for advocating that the board go back to square one on the naming process.
It is my expectation/understanding that the board will establish a time line for the nomination and selection process at our July 9 meeting. People who nominated names the first time can resubmit the materials without revision. People who want to submit new or alternate names must follow the process (e.g., commentary on public forums does not constitute a nomination or formal objection).
Dear Board members:
Thank you for doing the right thing and removing Vang Pao*s name from the new west side elementary school. I know it was a difficult decision for you, although I*m not sure why. I was a bit disconcerted about the *regret* and apologies issued to the Hmong community about your votes. How much controversy does a person need before he is unacceptable as a name for an elementary school? You would have never considered General Westmoorland*But, I digress. I really do appreciate the political situation you felt yourself to be in and appreciate your vote for what is best for the children of Madison. You are to be commended!
On another note, I*d like to encourage you to amend your policy to proceed with naming by using the three names left on the original list. My concerns are that the community is not going to heal properly if we have to go through all this again. Naming a school shouldn*t be this difficult. You have an opportunity here to take the best way out and allow the community to move on and give yourselves the chance to deal with more pressing issues*like budget!
Please*take the high road and go back to the list of three and let*s be done with this.
Thanks again, for removing Vang Pao*s name. Your courage is greatly appreciated.
Dear Ms. Reynolds,
Thank you for taking the time to write. I am not sure that I understand your response, since you so often said – and have gone to great lengths to present yourself to the media as someone who wants to compromise, have nothing against the Hmong, and want to heal the rift between communities.
I cannot speak for my fellow board members, but state for the record that my apologize comes from compassion for the pain and suffering that the Hmong community have experienced in their lives and have been experiencing again since Vang Pao’s arrest. My comments are sincere, just as are my comments that there are no winners in this unfortunate set of events.
As for reopening the process, it seems to me that we have been subjected to repeated allegations that we did not follow board policy the first time around. I cannot speak for my colleagues, but it is my personal hope that by going back to square one we can ensure that the process is followed to the fullest. (There is no policy that mandates going back to the list of finalists in a case such as this, so we are in fact following board policy by starting over.)