The needler in the haystack.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

School Board in not-so-surprising reorg

New Board President Hernandez' first decision is to hold BOE meetings at a central location, which the above was NOT.
As Plainfield's Board of Education reorganized Tuesday evening, it was clear that the sweep by the Grand Slam team of a further three seats signals a new era for the school district.

Lisa Logan-Leach, who was elected last year as the compromise candidate for Board president, was nominated once again (by Pat Barksdale), as was Renata Hernandez (by Wilma Campbell). Board member Rasheed Abdul-Haqq was not yet present when the voting took place; and Brenda Gilbert was absent.

Voting in the order in which they were nominated, Logan-Leach garnered two votes -- Barksdale's and her own. The remaining five, all Grand Slammers, ABSTAINED (well, I THINK Edache abstained; he must learn to speak up louder), which always strikes me as the wussy way out.

Voting for Hernandez was -- SURPRISE! -- the flip side: the five Grand Slammers were in accord, with Logan-Leach and Barksdale gutsy enough to say 'no'.

Can anyone really doubt those who are up for election next year (Barksdale, Gilbert and Logan-Leach) are already targeted for removal?

Newly elected Board President Renata Hernandez offered brief remarks, noting that she was going to 'make the new Board work very hard'.

Acting Superintendent of Schools Anna Belin-Pyles offered the most micro 'thank you' to former members Lenny Cathcart, Keisha Edwards and Katherine Peterson I can ever recall. Edwards was the only one present as far as I could see. I can remember the days under Larry Leverett's superintendency when outgoing members were called forward, read a resolution of thanks for their years of service and given a memento (usually in the form of a varsity jacket suitably embroidered), after which the audience was invited to applaud their service. Have good manners also fallen victim to 'school reform'?


As to the discussion of the timing of executive sessions which Bernice reports (see here), if there is 'a new law' regarding the timing, as she reports the Board discussing, I am unaware of it.

What I am aware of, and reported on in my 'Sunshine Week' post (see here), is that a New Jersey appeals court ruled against Rutgers on the matter of timing of closed sessions. The ruling (see here) strikes down the practice common with both the Board of Ed and the City Council of convening the public meeting only to go into executive session and then return to the public meeting later.

My understanding of the ruling is that the procedure now required is to COMPLETE the public portion of a meeting and then go into executive session if necessary. That executive session must be authorized by a resolution giving as much specificity as possible (without divulging sensitive details) that must be adopted by the governing body. Once the public is dismissed, the executive session is held and concluded WITH NO FURTHER RETURN TO A PUBLIC MEETING. This is the way the PMUA conducts its meetings, which is preferable to my mind.

Clearly, public bodies are in a state of flux and things will eventually sort themselves out, but the common sense trend seems to be to conduct affairs in such a way as not to unduly inconvenience the public.

I quite concur with Board President Hernandez on having the Board of Ed meetings at the High School as a central location. I was also pleased to see the reorg was held in the Library (I'm old fashioned, it's now called the 'media center' -- using two words instead of one).

The Library is a friendly room, well-lit, with good sightlines and miking (if the members use them properly) and can easily hold the ordinary number of attendees (last night I counted barely thirty people in the room, almost all staff as far as I could tell). By contrast, the auditorium is cavernous (seating 1,300), dimly lit (the Board is in perpetual shadows as are any folks called up for recognition), and with dubious acoustics.

Olddoc does note one concern however: being on the second floor, it is not immediately apparent that the Library is ADA-compliant. If there is an elevator, the Board should see to it that it is both accessible and its location publicized.
Congratulation to Board President Hernandez and to the new Board of Ed members.

Now is the time to show
THE TAXPAYERS -- who foot the bill for public education in the hopes that it will actually serve the public good -- that THEY are the 'winners'.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.


Bernice said...

According to my notes, Barksdale voted "no" and LLL abstained on Hernandez.

olddoc said...

Dan you must have been asleep, The time ruling on the executive session was proclaimed by Ottman as the law.and the superintendent and he decided that 1 hour would be

It is like quoting as factual sections of the State codes to those who have no idea as to the codes.

Anonymous said...

Dan -- the collective "WE" are the WINNERS!

Randy Schaeffer said...

Larry those were the good old days!!!

Anonymous said...

You must really hate Logan-Leach as you never have a kind word to say about her.

Anonymous said...

I completely understand the push to oust former Board members who supported Gallon, but please clarify something for me: Why is Lisa Logan Leach on the outs with the Grand Slam team and Wilma Campbell being supported by them? Both Leach and Campbell were on the BOE during that Gallon fiasco. They both were vocal about their displeasure over his actions on the Shame on You news segment. Did I miss something over the past year?

Dan said...

@ 10:40 PM: What does reporting what took place have to do with saying anything nice? It was what it was.

@ 2:01 AM: Who's to say what the internal dynamics of the BOE are? As Gallon fades in the rear-view mirror, you'd think things would have to be decided based on how well the Board faces its current challenges, wouldn't you? But we'll have to see.

Anonymous said...

Correction!!! The LAWYER was the one who shared the new law regarding executive session time limits.

That's how rumors get started.

Wake up!