SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – The Utah State Board of Education has concluded its investigation of one of its members. Brought about by complaints to the Public Education Hotline in July, USBE began investigating remarks made during a non-USBE related gathering by board member Natalie Cline as well as, reportedly, inflammatory posts on her personal Facebook page.
In a statement from USBE on Monday, August 7, the board reported to have concluded its investigation of the two incidents. USBE also expressed regret over inaccurate statements that were made during the preliminary analysis portion of the investigation.
“USBE regrets that inaccurate statements regarding the investigation and preliminary analysis in this matter during the confidential investigation led to premature conclusions and speculation regarding Board action.”
Cline had issued a statement on her Higher Ground website saying she had been cleared of any wrongdoing after initial analysis reports had been issued. In an earlier report to ABC4, USBE spokesperson, Kelsey James, clarified the initial analysis would be followed by the Board Members meeting and considering outcomes.
“They do that analysis and they provide that report to board leadership — they also provide that report to whoever is the subject of that investigation. Because it is a personnel matter, the subject of the investigation is given a chance to see what allegations are being made against them and then provide comments, context, or evidence to their defense,” James said.
James went on to explain USBE had made no official conclusion at that time. “That is the preliminary report she received. It is not definitive, it does not preclude, no matter what they find, no matter if it’s a clear violation or not a clear violation, it doesn’t preclude board leadership or the board in full from taking any action if they wish.”
The final statement regarding each incident included the following:
Due to the nature of a complaint regarding alleged statements about a USBE staff member at the Taylorsville Library on June 29, 2023, Board leadership requested additional investigation beyond the preliminary analysis, which included engagement by legal counsel and a request for response from Board Member Cline. The Board met twice last week to review the evidence and consider possible action. USBE takes seriously any report of improper conduct by its members, including allegations about statements that violate the privacy of staff members (USBE Bylaws Article IV (2)). In this matter, no additional action was taken due to a lack of sufficient evidence.Taylorsville Library Complaint
Board Leadership responded to a post by Member Cline dated July 4, 2023, by exercising its own right to speak in a press release on July 13, 2023. As stated in Article IV (2) of the Board’s bylaws, the Board acknowledges that its members have the right to speak under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, including controversial speech on policy issues and speech that is critical of the government; but the Board also expects members to follow its Bylaws and use civility and accuracy in communication.Facebook Post Complaint