Well, well, well, Secular Fam, I wish I could say that we’ve eradicated All Things Terrible from our local Arizona school boards, but you’re reading this, so no such luck! Last week, the Paradise Valley (PVUSD) meeting took place, and it was yet another example of deeply unserious boardsmanship and community engagement. So much for high hopes.
The meeting opened as most do: Student performance, Pledge, moment of silence, and then board member comments. Board Member Pantera talked about his wife’s first 5K race and school visits, Board Member Greenberg gave a similar update, and then MAGA Mama and Young Living
snake oil Essential Oil multi-level marketer, Sandra Christensen was up next. And right out the gate, Secular Fam, things got…weird…
She opened with comments about antisemitism and referred to scripture – WITHOUT SAYING IT OUT LOUD (I’m looking at you, Heather Rooks) that has helped her get through the last month of conflict in the Middle East. Next, she alluded to an investigation about a teacher/assistant coach in the district who was accused of inappropriate conduct with a female student in the district.
She then said that the district advocated for due process of the accused (as it should – read US Congressman, Jeremy Raskin’s statement on voting AGAINST expelling US Rep George Santos here), and then went on to share that the teacher had apparently taken her own life.
So let’s break this down since it’s a terrible and confusing story. From what I could gather, this teacher/coach was accused of an inappropriate relationship with a student. This is terrible, full stop. No one in a position of power in any scenario should ever, EVER prey upon someone in a subordinate position, especially when they are a minor.
It seems that after an investigation was opened, staff and board members were instructed to allow local law enforcement to conduct an investigation. This is called due process. It’s normal and in no way a nefarious cover up. It allows for an investigation to be conducted and helps all parties involved avoid legal peril. Due process is a good thing, and separates us from other forms of government where a person’s guilt or innocence can be determined by whoever is in charge, and without any proof needed.
Jeanne Casteen, Secular AZ Executive Director
JEANNE CASTEEN has a bachelor’s degree in human communication and history from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at ASU and a master’s in education, also from ASU. Jeanne has over 11 years of experience teaching in Maricopa County’s public schools. In 2011, Jeanne completed the Emerge Arizona program and in 2012 became a school board member of the Creighton School District. She served as Board President from 2016 through 2020. In 2020, Ms. Casteen ran for Maricopa County School Superintendent, and came within 12,000 votes of winning. She has been awarded the Arizona School Public Relations Association Award for Excellence in Advocacy and Political Contributions to Education as well as the Arizona School Board Association’s All-Arizona School Board Member Award.