Last night's special-called board meeting included two excellent presentations. One was on Robert's Rules of Order and the other was an update on Discipline. I'll separate my comments.
The invited speaker on Robert's Rules of Order was Helen McFadden. She is a retired attorney with years of experience in the world of Robert's Rules.
As it happened, my library Hold on Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised
(RONR), 10th edition, became available, and I picked it up on the way into the meeting.
Hopefully, Ms. McFadden's remarks were recorded and will be available on YouTube and on the District's website later this week.
Toward the end of her presentation, on a slide titled "Other Issues" was a bullet-point that read, "Ability to hear and be heard". That point was not discussed, and I wondered whether it applied to each board member (or member of a public body) or if it meant the audience.
Beginning remarks by Board Chair Manning and Supt. Davis were loud and clear. They got up close to their microphones and spoke into them, causing their voices to be amplified and audible throughout the room. They forgot to ask Ms. McFadden to do likewise at her microphone, and the few in the audience (four, plus a second speaker) seated behind her could be seen on the laptops and phones during portions of her remarks. Was that because they could not hear her?
One topic she did cover was the Quorum for a meeting.
When the meeting started, there were six at the head table, plus Supt. Davis. Trustee Elkins-Johnson was absent. But you wouldn't have known it, because no roll call was taken.
Before the meeting began, I had looked up Roll Call in RONR to learn what Mr. Robert had to say about it. It's found under Optional Headings, and it apparently is not required. If Roll Call is taken, its place in the Agenda would be at the end of opening ceremonies. The board could place it elsewhere. The logical place, in my opinion, would be right after the meeting is called to order.
Why would it have been important last night?
There are seven positions as Board members. With the ongoing controversy about the legitimacy of two elected persons, this could mean that, to have a quorum, all five of the legal members would have to be in attendance. Without Trustee Elkins-Johnson last night, there was not a quorum. Trustees-elect McKie and Holmes are not yet legal, official members of the Board, because they have not taken the oath of office since filing their Statements of Economic Interest with the South Carolina Ethics Commission since December 4, 2018. As soon as they do take the oath of office, they will be legal school board members.
But they were there and seated, and the District considers them as members. So six were present; a quorum is five.
At 6:43PM Amelia McKie quietly left the meeting. This left five present - exactly a quorum.
Then, at 7:41PM Teresa Holmes left the meeting. This left four members attending - less than a quorum.
What would Ms. McFadden have counseled the Board to do at that time? Should there have been a statement by the Board Chair that the official Special-Called Board Meeting was over, because a quorum was no longer present? Should that change in quorum-status have been recognized? No votes were scheduled. Can the Board receive information in unofficial session?
This is where a Roll Call is important. A formal acknowledgement of official members coming and going. It can be done with a simple statement to the public.
When it was time to close the meeting after the Discipline Update, a Motion to Adjourn was made, seconded and voted upon. Except the Board's vote is ineffective, because there was no quorum.
If Ms. McFadden returns for further discussion of Robert's Rules of Order, perhaps she will clarify what to do when a quorum is no longer present. Does the Board have to sit there for a week until the next meeting?