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Sabers Rattle, Missiles Launch In Schools Fight

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Keith West's assault from within on his School Board colleagues continues on all fronts.

Suspecting behind-the-scenes collusion on the part of fellow board members in suppressing his nomination as chairman of the School Board and citing concerns over the board's reaction to scrutiny of the school system's finances, West has filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking all e-mails between individual members of the board as well as key administration officials.

And last Thursday, West sent an e-mail to his fellow board members apprising them of his progress in recruiting their replacements, and warning them that they might want to start raising funds for re-election.

"I suspect there is a cover up in [the board's] response to the audit, and I suspect there is a cover up in their response to other issues," says West, who already has received a limited response to his request, including an early copy of the recently released audit sent by outgoing Superintendent Deborah Jewell-Sherman to some board members.

"It went to seven board members -- and you can guess who it went to," West says, noting that he and Carol A.O. Wolf, another board member frequently in the minority on board issues, were both omitted. The two were also, he says, omitted in an e-mail Jewell-Sherman sent out suggesting board members invite their constituents to the State of the Schools address.

"It's just unprofessional," West says. "There is a calculated attempt to withhold information from people who don't agree with what [the administration] is doing."

Meanwhile, West says he'll take his fight to court because he's "not received one document of an e-mail between individual board members — and I know they exist because I have sent them stuff."

West acknowledges that his FOIA request did not include Wolf, but says it didn't need to: "She sends all her e-mails to everybody anyway."

As to the e-mail West sent most recently to his fellow board members, he says he is unrepentant about its tone or contents, despite having received less-than-receptive replies from some of his colleagues.

"Quality candidates will be running in every district," West writes, warning that "of course, as always, money will be an important factor, and the issue has been addressed. I would imagine that, unless some wealthy benefactor intends to buy your seat, significant spending will be necessary for a competitive race."

West declined to reveal who he has lined up to finance his slate of candidates.

"Please refrain from sending me any threatening emails," wrote Chandra Smith, who represents the 6th District. Evette Wilson, 9th District, sent a poem: "Continue to do what you do best ... and GOD will handle the rest!"

"Hark!! The sound of sabers rattling and manly chests being beaten!" wrote Vice Chairwoman Lisa Dawson, "teehee."

There are no rhymes in West's message, he says, and its purpose was not to provide warning: "One of their big problems is they can't tell the difference between the sound of sabers rattling and incoming missiles."



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