After Being Filibustered, Paul Get His Message to Billings School Board
During last week's special meeting of the SD2 school board to discuss special-needs student Emily Pennington from Billings West High, Paul Mushaben of the Breakfast Flakes on Cat Country 102.9 signed up to speak.
But, the school board apparently had other plans to keep the farmer from speaking his mind.
So, instead of sharing his thoughts with the 300 people attending the school board meeting, Paul opened up the microphone and told the audience of more than 30,000 listeners where he stands.
Here's the transcription of Paul Mushaben's comments to the Billings School Board:
You know, after listening to all these experts, we've heard from legislators, we've heard from teachers who work with disabled kids, I come to this microphone, not as an expert on anything. I'm just a dad. That's all. Just a dad, who has four kids that have gone through a school system that are all very successful. I've got one who's an orthopedic surgeon, I got one who's leading the respiratory clinic out there at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, I've got one who's a chemical engineer, I've got one as a business marketing major.
And the reason that all of them are able to do that is because they had teachers and educators in their life that had "can do" attitudes. That had "we will" attitudes that had "we will help you get there" attitudes. And what I see tonight, here in front of this school board, is a sad day for education. This is pathetic.
I have listened to nine school board members, the budget director, four people involved in special education, and the superintendent of schools, spend the last two hours filibustering and giving everybody in this community, in this audience, all the reasons why we should not educate and graduate disabled kids if it takes them till the age of 19.
You call yourself educators? How dare you? How dare you! You're supposed to be working, you should have taken the exact opposite approach. You should have been giving for the last months, all the reasons why we should in every way that we can get it done. Rather than taking the opposite road. You sit there and tell me that we just don't have the facilities to accommodate these kids. And yet, we're proposing a new Daylis stadium recreational Events Center, all kinds of things, but we don't have the facilities for disabled kids.
You're telling me that we'd have to go for a mill levy for $1.1 million. If we were to fund this program, and yet, half of you sitting up there just got part of the $5.1 million in administrative bonuses. And then that was going to look at superintendent Greg Upham.
And I was going to say, Mr. Upham when you were first hired in this school district, many, many years ago, there was only one person in public, one in this entire area, that supported you as the first choice for superintendent. And that was me, a guy who made a public forum and announced it. And there was a reason Mr. Upham why I did that. You are from Montana. You understand the people, you understand our way of life. You understand what's important to us. You understand how we care for our neighbors. You understand how we come to people's aid in time of need. We never leave a fallen soldier behind. We're just special out here. We're different.
And now I regret that decision. Because of how you have treated this family and how you have treated this issue. Excuse after excuse after excuse of why you can't get this done. Not only that, Mr. Upham, you had the guts, you had the audacity to write this family a letter. And in this letter, I will quote you saying this.
Furthermore, I will note that you've been aware, since your daughter's first IEP visit in April of 2010 when she was in kindergarten, of your family's decision to have her repeat kindergarten that could cause her to age out. That fact was discussed repeatedly. And after reviewing the options, your family made the decision to reject our recommendation to go ahead and advance your daughter forward a year.
Mr. Upham, that's not your decision. That's their decision. You're not a doctor. You're not a psychologist. You're not the parents. You don't know what she was going through when she was four. This girl had heart surgeries, open heart surgeries to set her back. This girl had leukemia she had to overcome that set her back. This girl had scoliosis surgeries to fix her that set her back. And you're turning around and you're putting the blame on her that they should have listened to you, in your IEP people and not their doctors, not the people involved about what was best for their child.
Isn't that funny? That sure is a turn. When last year you listened to rogue county health directors make all these medical decisions for all the kids, masking them up, keeping them out of school. You thought that was a great damn idea. But not for this family. Not for this family. I can't believe that an educator even had the guts to write that Mr. Upham, and you did. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.
And everybody sitting up there on that school board should be ashamed of what you're not only setting the precedent for with this girl, but every other girl to follow, or every other person who is disabled to follow after this one. That's why you're there. That's why you're there. Paid by the taxpayer to do these kinds of things.
Oh, and one more thing. Now that my three minutes is up, Mr. Bell Ringer over there. You know, I really do believe that God picks parents of autistic children, kids with Down Syndrome, and every disability, I believe he handpicks those people because those people have to be special. Those people He knows will provide that child the love, the guidance, and the compassion that a child like that needs. These are special parents, special people that deal with all of these children. And I think God really has a hand in picking them.
But it's too bad Mr. Upham that God doesn't have a hand in picking school board members and superintendents, because I can guaran-damn-te you he sure as hell would have picked different ones that are up here on this stage.
And so in closing, I ask you to revise policy 2050. Fix it. Make sure it never happens again. No excuses. Don't pass it because you finally found the money. Don't pass it because the legislature finally cleared it up for you. Don't pass it because you finally have the people in the program that can do it. Pass it because it's the right thing to do. That's all I have to say.
So everybody that spoke out last night, everybody that's fired up about this. Congratulations. Thank you. Keep it up. Do not let them get away with this. These kids are too important.