Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Board of Ed Reorg Report Card: D- for Deportment

Emily Morgan signs her oath of office at Tuesday's
Board of Ed reorganization meeting.

I would give Plainfield's Board of Ed a D- for Deportment for the conduct of its 2016 reorganization meeting.

Here are the reasons why:


The Board (or its Secretary) were inexcusably rude in not explaining to newly-elected member Emily Morgan how exactly the evening would unfold, and why she was to be excluded from the Executive Session before the reorganization meeting.

As attendees began to arrive shortly before 7:00 PM, there were no agendas on the foyer table as is usual. There was some flurry finally, after the new members had been sworn in, and the agendas were produced from a box on the stage and distributed to members of the audience by Business Administrator Gary Ottman.

An example of a properly noticed
Board of Ed Executive Session.
The Executive Session before the meeting appears to have been illegally conducted. Nowhere on the District's website can there be found any requisite notice of a public meeting then closed for executive session. Nor is there any indication on the Reorganization agenda (see here). So, evidently the executive session was conducted in violation of the Open Public Meetings Act (Sunshine Law).

Secondly, Mr. Campbell and Mr. Wyatt were included in the session, while Mrs. Morgan was excluded. When challenged on the discrepancy, the board attorney explained it was because Mrs. Morgan was not yet sworn in.

While the previous Board may meet in "lame duck" sessions until the new board is organized (including executive sessions), she did not address the illegality of the meeting.

Another way of handling it could have been to swear in all three members and then have an executive session (if legally noticed!).

Far from looking like an innocent oversight, the whole thing reeks of a snub -- an illegal one, at that.

Then there is the fiction that Messrs Campbell and Wyatt were "re-elected".

This is absolutely not the case. Each was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Board. Their election in November was the first time they were ever elected by the voters.

Wouldn't you expect the School Board -- responsible for teaching our youngsters such distinctions! -- to correctly use the term?

But I fell for it, too, using the term when I addressed the Board.
It should be noted Mrs. Campbell's election to yet another year as Board of Ed president was not unanimous.

Mrs. Morgan firmly voted "No" when her name was called. When Mrs. Clarke protested that the Board Secretary had failed to call her name in the roll call vote, she then entered her abstention on the record.

There were about thirty in the audience, almost all showing support for Mrs Morgan, with the exception of the Campbells' sons, who presented flowers to their mother (the board president) in celebration of her birthday.

The Board of Ed appears to have gotten sloppy in the conduct of its meetings, with so little attendance and attention paid by the public. Such sloppiness will no longer pass muster.

What grade will the next report card bring?

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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