I attended the Jan. 16 Portland Board of Education meeting, where members voted on whether City Councilor Belinda Ray should be added to the advisory committee that’s overseeing the $64 million school bond and building project.

Moments before public testimony on the vote, a colleague who was at the hearing with me received and shared a message from school board member Holly Seeliger. My colleague, a constituent, asked Ms. Seeliger to attend and vote.

Ms. Seeliger’s response: “I know I’m very torn but I have been told specifically I will lose my policy chair seat and all the work I’ve been doing over the past couple of years if I vote tonight. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t. You don’t know how upsetting this is for me too. Makes my stomach turn.”

Ms. Seeliger didn’t attend or vote and was reported to be sick.

I stated my concerns regarding this disturbing communication during public testimony. No action was taken by the board.

One week later, I sent a letter to the board requesting that the matter be looked into. I received a response from Superintendent Xavier Botana, who said he interviewed Ms. Seeliger and board chair Anna Trevorrow and stated: “The Board members involved have expressed no interest in pursuing this issue further. The matter is closed.”

I then wrote again to the board, requesting a transparent process that included a public discussion. I have yet to receive a response.

Though I’m no expert, this seemed like an unethical quid pro quo between Ms. Seeliger and Ms. Trevorrow.

Though national politics is currently riddled with a lack of basic ethics and transparency, I expected much better from our local government. I am disappointed in our school board and superintendent.

It’s not too late to change course and do the right thing. I hope the board reconsiders.

John Thibodeau