Hard to see how this action by Salem-Keizer School Board chair Satya Chandragiri is anything short of flat-out outrageous.
Eddy Binford-Ross is editor-in-chief of South Salem High School's paper, the Clypian.
After getting national recognition for covering Black Lives Matter protests last year, she spent months researching and writing a tell-all expose of how screwed-up the school board is, "Scandals, Special Interests and Dysfunction Plague School Board."
Binford-Ross won a richly deserved 2021 Oregon High School Journalist of the Year award. She was set to be recognized at the April 13 school board meeting.
But Chandragiri decided to put off the recognition of Binford-Ross until after the May school board election, conjuring up a highly dubious excuse in an attempt to disguise his disdain for how Binford-Ross revealed the sleazy, stinky mess that calls itself the Salem-Keizer School Board.
A Salem Reporter story has a right-on headline.
The board had Binford-Ross’ recognition on a draft agenda for Tuesday following a planning meeting earlier this week, said Chandragiri.
He said the article largely recapped existing information about the board and that he didn’t take issue with it. But Chandragiri said after the agenda was drafted, a community member sent him a screenshot of a March 24 Facebook post by the Salem Democratic Socialists of America.
The page shared Binford-Ross’ article, saying “This in-depth article shows why we need (to) take back our school board!” and endorsing the liberal slate of school board candidates in the May election.
Chandragiri said that made him concerned that honoring Binford-Ross now would be seen as endorsing the board candidates mentioned in the post. He said he didn’t want politics to detract from Binford-Ross’ recognition and intends to spotlight her after the May election.
“If there is a controversy in these weeks before the election that would really distract us,” he told Salem Reporter. “Our board should be only focused on students.”
Hey, Chair Chandragiri, you've just manufactured a much bigger controversy than going ahead with recognizing Eddy Binford-Ross at next Tuesday's school board meeting would have created.
What Chandragiri has done is make it even more abundantly clear why the conservative cabal of school board members factually criticized in Binford-Ross' expose needs to be tossed out of office.
A Statesman-Journal story contains an astoundingly hypocritical and misguided quote from Chandragiri.
"Is there a risk that (the) district will be perceived as actively endorsing the democratic socialist of America party?" Chandragiri wrote in an email. "I would like our public schools to remain non partisan and stay focused to what we should be doing. Even the appearance like conflict of interest can be misinterpreted."
What a bunch of B.S.
Chandragiri supposedly is worried about the school board looking like it has a conflict of interest because -- don't try to follow the logic here, because there isn't any -- a socialist group cited the Binford-Ross expose in calling for a fresh slate of school board candidates to be elected in May.
No one on the school board, including Chandragiri, has called into question the accuracy of what Binford-Ross wrote about the school board.
This includes the fact that "In 2019, Chair Satya Chandragiri received over $11,500 from Oregon Right to Life and the Oregon Right to Life PAC for his school board campaign."
Also, "Many of the current school board directors ran for the school board after they failed in political campaigns for public office at the state level. Chandragiri ran for and lost the Republican primary for Oregon House of Representatives District 19 in 2018, right before his bid for school board."
So Chandragiri should be mocked for his ridiculous assertion that the school board can't recognize Eddy Binford-Ross because it needs to remain non-partisan.
Actually, the Salem-Keizer School Board already is highly partisan.
Chandragiri and other members accept big bucks from Oregon Right to Life, a hugely partisan special interest group. And Chandragiri tried to be elected to the Oregon legislature as a Republican, an obviously partisan political party. Binford-Ross documents other partisan activities of school board members in her expose.
It seems clear that Chandragiri is punishing Binford-Ross because she did what all good journalists do: speak truth to power.
Chandragiri doesn't like that truth coming out before the school board election because it threatens his ability to keep promoting his right-wing views along with the current conservative majority on the board.
Christy Perry, the Superintendent of Salem-Keizer schools, saw through Chandragiri's game.
Chandragiri texted Salem-Keizer Superintendent Christy Perry Friday saying he wanted to pull the item from the agenda and delay it until after the election.
...Perry responded that she and communications director Sylvia McDaniel would notify Binford-Ross and her principal.
“This feels really wrong. I just need you to know that,” Perry said in her message.
I'll end by pointing out that the Salem Democratic Socialists of American group wasn't alone in publicizing the Binford-Ross expose and calling for a new slate of school board members.
A link to the expose was shared on the Salem Resists Pacebook group. I shared the expose on three Facebook pages that I manage. So Chandragiri was just making stuff up when he claimed to be upset that the Democratic Socialists post would somehow taint the upcoming election.
Again, what Chandragiri has done is draw attention to what he doesn't think deserves attention. Which is why I'm sharing a screenshot of that post.