The Eden Prairie School Board has concluded that member Veronica Stoltz engaged in actions which were “not ethical, or business-like, and did not display appropriate decorum.”
The actions occurred at an August 24 school board meeting that, according to school board documents published by the district on Nov. 23, exposed the school board to “significant risk” of committing a legal violation. The matter will be taken up further at the December 14 school board meeting.
November 9, Working Meeting Actions
As a result of Stoltz’s actions at the Aug. 24 meeting, the school board voted on Nov. 9 to take the following actions. The board removed Board Director Veronica Stoltz’s appointment to the Board Development Committee. Stoltz will also be required to re-take training courses that school board members typically take in preparation for joining the board, according to the Nov. 23 documents.
She also is required to submit a formal public statement regarding the alleged violations. Stoltz’s public statement will be considered for entry into the public record by the school board at the upcoming regular Dec. 14 school board meeting.
The Nov. 9 action was taken during a working meeting involving the school board’s own self-evaluation process. Under rules of the self-evaluation governance process, the board votes on violation sanctions ranging from required public statements to removal from the board. No minutes are published for working meetings, according to the school district’s senior director of communication and community relations, Brett Johnson.
November 23 document records November 9 actions
Johnson confirmed the accuracy of the Nov. 23 packet of school board materials. The documents are posted on the district’s website as part of background materials for the Nov. 23 board meeting. Matters related to the actions taken on Nov. 9 by the school board are noted in the Nov. 23 school board meeting pages 39-47.
As recorded in Nov. 23 documents, the school board on Nov. 9 decided Stoltz was found to have engaged in “significant” violations involving five sections of policies under the School Board Members’ Code of Conduct. The policies noted in the accusation include a section requiring school board members to “demonstrate loyalty to the owners, not conflicted by loyalties to staff, other organizations, or any personal interests as consumers.”
Also, Stoltz also was determined to have violated sections of the code involving, proper preparation for deliberations, confidentiality, and conflict of interest. Further, the violation involved a section prohibiting the exercise of “individual authority over the school district or attempt to cause division between School Board members or the School Board and members of the district.”
“Her actions led to significant risk of the Board committing a legal violation,” the Nov. 23 documents said. “Director’s (sic) Stoltz’s actions caused division among the Board that have taken and will continue to take significant action to address.” A specific legal statute was not identified in the documents.
Stoltz declined ELPN’s request for comment, citing an Eden Prairie school district policy prohibiting board members to speak directly with the news media.
She was elected to the board in November 2019 and her term ends in January 2023.
Aug. 24 meeting
Johnson confirmed that there is no official audio or video record of what happened after the Aug. 24 meeting adjourned. Johnson said he was at the meeting but had left the immediate area after adjournment and did not witness the incident.
The precise nature of Stoltz’s comments is unclear. The comments occurred after the August 24 school board meeting had adjourned. The August 24 meeting involved, in part, a school board vote on the options for education in Eden Prairie schools due to the pandemic. The school district’s official video recording of the meeting had ended.
At least one audience member recorded video of a portion of the post-meeting discussion. That video has circulated on social media.
EPLN reviewed a copy of the minute-long video. Audio is difficult to understand because of the distance and crosstalk between the audience and board members. The video shows Stoltz standing away from the school board member meeting tables. She appears to be recording the audience on her own phone.
Some posters on the Eden Prairie Moms Facebook group remain critical of the board for its Aug. 24 treatment of Stoltz. They are critical of the school boardfor not allowing audience members – several of whom they said were teachers concerned about the upcoming start of the school year – to ask questions of the board at the Aug. 24 school board meeting.
“There was time for public comment (at the August 24 meeting) and at the time that public comment was called for, no one had signed up for public comment,” Johnson said. The August 24 meeting was the last meeting that included in-person attendees other than board members and staff. Since that time meetings have been virtual and available for viewing on the district website.
Dec. 14 meeting, public comments
The Dec. 14 regular board meeting, which includes the annual truth in taxation public hearing, begins at 6 p.m. That meeting also includes an opportunity for individual three-minute public comments, Johnson said. He emphasized that it is not a question and answer format. Questions or comments will be directed to a district staff person for a follow-up response at a later time.
The comment period occurs early in the meeting, he said. A Dec. 14 meeting agenda had not been posted as of Dec. 9. Agendas are posted here.
To comment to the board, interested persons must sign in at the Administrative Services Center at 8100 School Road before the meeting and wait to be called, Johnson said. Some board members will be on-site; others will call in via Zoom.
Depending on the number of people who want to comment, people waiting their turn may be asked to stay in a socially distanced area in a separate room where they can watch the meeting on a television.
Complete public comment guidelines can be found at https://edenpr.org/community/school-board.
The meeting also will be streamed live and can be viewed on the district’s website at https://edenpr.org/community/school-board/agenda-and-materials. The district also posts a recording several days after the meeting.