The Conway School Board spread lots of congratulations and praise, but little information, Tuesday night. But if you listened carefully, a bit of news did leak out.

With very little discussion, the board approved new policies regulating teachers and other employees. Board member Trip Leach was absent Tuesday, but all board members in attendance voted in favor.

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Critics of the new policies — one that requires school employees to notify the district if they’re approached by the media for an interview and another forbidding employees from using district equipment or internet access to share personal opinions with politicians — have said they infringe on educators’ freedom of speech.

But at Tuesday’s meeting, no one complained publicly.

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Board member Sheila Franklin asked a few polite questions. Superintendent Jeff Collum offered to answer Franklin’s questions in private, but board chairman Andre Acklin reminded Franklin she could ask them during the public meeting.

Franklin wanted to know why employees were being required to report any contacts with the news media, even when they’re off work. Collum assured her that they were not.

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Collum’s reassurance clashes with the wording of the approved policy: “All employees shall notify the District Coordinator of Media Relations anytime an employee is approached by an entity outside of the District for a media or media related interview.”

Still, asked about this matter, Collum insisted, “On their own time — we’re not trying to get into that world at all. This is during the school day, during the work day … so that we can help.”

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Franklin also asked about a provision that regulates the teaching of professional development courses at other campuses. Board member Jason Sandefer mentioned a scenario where a teacher might get paid to instruct a professional-development course at the Arch Ford Education Service Cooperative. Board member Linda Hargis chimed in, “And they can’t do that on school time,” to which district attorney Shastady Wagner said that’s correct, unless the teacher obtained prior approval.

This policy begs the question: Does this mean Collum can continue teaching school-safety courses on other campuses?

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Also at Tuesday’s meeting, school board member Dr. David Naylor Jr. offered some surprisingly politicized praise, considering a school board is supposed to be non-partisan.

Naylor said he met Jacob Oliva, whom Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders hired as her secretary of the Arkansas Department of Education. Oliva quickly got to work helping Sanders push through controversial changes including publicly funded vouchers to pay private school tuition and culture war-inspired bans on indoctrination and critical race theory in the classroom. Naylor seems impressed.

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“You’re talking about the guy that started at the lowest level  — in special education teaching and moved up,” Naylor said. “This guy gets it. He gets education, and he’s a very smart guy, so, I’m very proud of the direction the state is going in as far as his leadership.”