Three teachers took to the podium during the public comment portion of the Centralia School District Board of Directors monthly meeting Wednesday to outline a perceived “conflict of interest” of board member Jami Lund.
The teachers who spoke — Corrine Flatz, Lauri Johnson and Jane King — all received a letter from Choice for Teachers, a project of the Freedom Foundation, where Lund is employed.
The letter, which was sent to district staff’s emails and personal home addresses, stated members of the Washington Education Association, National Education Association and affiliates, such as the Centralia Education Association, could receive a refund of union dues in the amount of about $285 per teacher.
According to the Freedom Foundation’s website, the correspondence was written by Lund, a senior policy analyst for the foundation, and a newly elected school board member.
“I’d like to know how your employer gained access to my contact information. I received this on a district email site, and others received this letter at their personal home addresses,” King said. “I would also like to know after 25 years of service to this district why coincidently for the first time I’m receiving correspondence from your employer, the Freedom Foundation.”
King said it was a gross violation of her privacy and a misuse of district resources for the information to be disseminated through district email.
“I would encourage the rest of the school board to enlighten Jami Lund on the proper use of Centralia School District resources, especially the dissemination of the personal contact information of its employees,” she said.
Flatz and Johnson, both members of the Centralia Education Association, expressed similar opinions, stating Lund was furthering his political agenda through his school board position and said he had a conflict of interest with his employer.
Lund told The Chronicle after the school board meeting that he did not disclose district staff information, emails or home addresses to anyone.
Ed Petersen, communications and public relations coordinator for the district, said all staff emails are listed on the website, but home addresses are not public record. He said no public records requests were filed for teachers’ addresses or anything of that nature.
Lund said he did not see a conflict of interest between his employment and his role on the school board.
“I mean, everyone has an employment of different sorts, it’s a voluntary board,” he said. “People who voted knew who they were talking about, there’s no problem there.”
He also said this experience was not a new one for him.
“As a taxpayer advocate you sort of get yourself into a position where people have objections,” he said. “…The short story is unions don’t like taxpayer advocates and that is what my employer does for a living.”
The Freedom Foundation is a conservative nonprofit think tank working to “reverse the stranglehold public-sector unions have on our government,” according to its website.
Lund was elected to the school board in the Nov. 3 general election. He defeated incumbent Chris Thomas.