Guest editorial: Park Record’s reporting on superintendent’s home missed the real story

Marina Hudson
Jeremy Ranch

I was disturbed by The Park Record’s reporting of a rock through the Park City School District’s superintendent’s window after she alleged she was targeted on social media. I completely agree with others who say violence or invasion of one’s safe place is never acceptable. What I found most disturbing was how vastly different the facts reported about the maligned Nextdoor post were from the actual post and subsequent comments.

The post’s subject was PCSD’s decision to allot $200,000 for improvements to the district’s residential asset, primarily a heated driveway and multi-tiered backyard boulder hardscape. Sure, this raised folks’ hackles and some quickly deleted comments were out of line. But, the post’s value was in the 100-plus comments from long-time residents, previous school board members, and publicly available documents demonstrating the misinformation PCSD feeds us (one of which confirmed the district residence purchase AFTER the superintendent’s employment contract date not BEFORE as stated by the district’s Todd Hauber — or Andrew Caplan’s claim the home’s age is 25 years when a Summit County property search reveals its age as 18). In essence, the Nextdoor thread was one-stop shopping for public information and documents on school board spending. Prior to this post all I knew is what I saw happening down the street: new boulders constructing a wall within inches of the street, work suddenly stopping, a second survey and those same rocks moving away from the street nearly 3 feet, the heavy equipment, the many loads of rocks, the extensive heated driveway tubing and more — I didn’t know precisely what was happening but could see with my own eyes activity at a property I knew the district owned. The Nextdoor post was valuable information and I watched it closely in order to learn or access more insight into our local district. Convenient to the school board, the Nextdoor thread was deleted after a couple days and its originator shut out of the social media site so you can’t see it unless you know someone who has the screen shots.

The article asserted vandalism and targeting resulted from a thread I watched develop into constructive community discussion. The post was gone and no longer could be discussed on Nextdoor. “District officials” were controlling the dialogue through press releases and Park Record news pieces. The best I can determine is the $200k expenditure debate was squashed by distracting us with a story that eclipsed the Nextdoor thread subject. Public outrage over an alleged act of vandalism became the story: It’s what pitted neighbor against neighbor when one’s first response wasn’t outrage but “why not call the sheriff?”

Who knows if this was a deliberate attempt to distract and divert attention in the current inhospitable climate of dissent toward the school board. The district’s response of gratitude the story was disproved isn’t answering any questions of how this type of misinformation came about in the first place nor how it was acceptable for vandalism to have allegedly occurred to a public asset without involving our sheriff. In retrospect it’s clear there was distraction by telling a sensationalized story about a rock, emphasis on some quickly deleted nasty comments, accusations about targeting the superintendent when she was barely mentioned in the Nextdoor thread, and the publishing of PCSD’s narrative by a trusted hometown paper. To credit The Park Record they have published two updated articles debunking the attack on the superintendents home as well as a post acknowledging they didn’t get it right this time. I think they can make this right by reporting on the real story: Where is the transparency and what will our $200k buy?

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