Steven Jones’ response to Superintendent Bedden’s comments

It is unfortunate that our interaction with a school board candidate has become news. Someone from the IISD contacted the press. While we are dealing with large-scale budget cuts, preparation for the new state accountability system, staffing for next school year and the day-to-day issues of educating children, the nature our meetings shouldn’t be used as fodder for a schoolboard race. Then why did the District contact the press? But it is and therefore I will respond in hopes of putting it to rest. Mr. Jones surprised me by attending a meeting that was scheduled with Ms. Wells, another school board candidate. Gail Wells asked me to attend this meeting with Dr. Bedden. The meeting was difficult, to say the least, because Mr. Jones would interrupt and make personal comments that were both combative and confrontational. Absolutely false. Dr. Bedden started the meeting with a personal attack on me. He proceeded to tell me that everyone in the Administration Building was afraid of me and that I was disrespectful. His voice became louder and louder as he spoke and Gail Wells became visibly frightened. I told him that I had only spoken with 4 or 5 people in the building since filing to run for office, and they would have no reason to fear me unless they were uncomfortable answering questions. Once it became clear the meeting was unproductive, I politely asked Mr. Jones to leave. I was shocked and disappointed by Dr. Bedden’s actions and could see that he was not in control of himself. I stood, saying that this was not going to be a productive meeting, and politely left his office. As I left, he stood, and began yelling “Get out of my office.” He was neither forced nor coerced to leave. He was just asked. After leaving Dr. Bedden’s office, I was stopped in the lobby by Special Assistant to the Superintendent Ralph Diaz who said he had been listening to the

meeting. He asked me a question, I answered. As I was answering, Gail Wells was leaving Dr. Bedden’s office, followed immediately by Dr. Bedden. Gail was visibly shaken. Dr. Bedden walked over to me, pointed his index finger at me and said, “You leave the building NOW.” I told him that I had been stopped by his Special Assistant Ralph Diaz while exiting the building. Dr. Bedden looked at Diaz and turned back to me, finger still pointed at me and said, “Leave the premises NOW.” I replied, “This is a public building” turned, and exited the building. Over the course of the past few weeks, several of our district employees have made attempts to answer Mr. Jones’ questions, only to be insulted or treated rudely. False. Despite not receiving answers to my questions, I have not been rude or disrespectful to anyone in the District. I have been treated with disdain by Dr. Bedden. We will continue to provide Mr. Jones and any other citizen with public information. We respect differing opinions on issues. Only one of my four public information requests has been answered. Thus far, Dr. Bedden’s actions have not reflected any respect for me or my opinions. But we also expect common courtesy and respectful dialogue during the process of gathering information. I certainly have had no common courtesy or respectful dialogue from Dr. Bedden. My first encounter with Dr. Bedden was on the telephone. He called me at home about a week after I filed to run for the school board. I answered the phone and heard,“This is Dr. Bedden” in a very loud, aggressive tone. He repeated, “This is Dr. Bedden.” I greeted him again and he proceeded to accuse me of spreading lies. He was very aggressive and hung up on me after a very short conversation. We have not seen or heard that from Mr. Jones. Although it has not been reciprocated, I have acted in a totally professional and respectful manner in my dealings with Dr. Bedden and members of the IISD staff.

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