Wall of Shame – Jon Aitken, Vail Unified School Board

By Amy Carney

Yet again, we see another school board member publicly shaming his constituents. Thankfully, after eight years of service, Jon Aitken’s seat is up soon and eight candidates are running to take it in the Vail Unified School District (VUSD) in southern Arizona.

According to Ballotpedia, Aitken stated on his campaign website that ​​his “goal as an elected school board member will be to directly hear the voice of the residents of this great district.” However, he failed to mention that this would only apply to taxpayers if they fall in line with his beliefs and desires.

Aitken has openly shown his disdain for parental concerns and has recently publicly shamed Geraldine Kleber, a mother of two children in VUSD schools and a candidate for the governing board, for asking the elected board members to consider leaving the Arizona School Board Association (ASBA) and not approve travel expenses for the upcoming NSBA conference in Orlando in April of 2023. 

Kleber received the following response from the former board president after sending an email to board members asking them to consider leaving ASBA since Arizona dropped their membership.

Later, during the July 12th board meeting, Aitken arrogantly responded to Kleber’s public comment, referring to her concerns as “foolish.” (31:09)

Aitken publicly said “I understand what NSBA said, back whenever they said it, and I agree. When we were here in April of last year (or whenever it was) we were terrorized by parents that were threatening our safety so they were being domestic terrorists. It was not a blanket statement to everybody. It was simply identifying what was happening at boards and the tactic they were using were to terrorize school boards so they wouldn’t proceed with their business so I’m sorry they were right.”

He continued “As far as canceling the (NSBA) meeting is concerned I think it’s naive and foolish Geraldine. That’s two meetings in a row where I think something you said was foolish. We get so much value from going to these meetings and learning what other districts are doing and sharing what we are doing. Who cares that Arizona backed out of the NSBA? We still get value from it and it’s still a very important thing that we do and it is offensive for you (as he waves to Kleber in the boardroom) to say this (going to a NSBA conference) is a vacation.”

The community attempted to recall Aitken (and current board president Claudia Anderson) in the spring of 2021, stating that the students, parents, and staff do not feel like they have a voice before the Board and feel silenced and disrespected. When voicing concerns about students at the board meetings, Aitken displays a demeanor of disdain for the very people he is supposed to represent by leaning back in his chair, looking at the ceiling, and rolling his eyes.”

The election on November 8 to elect two new school board members in Vail, and across the state of Arizona, can’t come soon enough. 

Watch the full meeting for yourself!