Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Dec. 3, 2019 - NOTE: Change of Location

The Special Called Board Meeting for Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 will be held at Jackson Creek Elementary School, not at R2i2. Jackson Creek Elementary is located at 7150 Trenholm Road Extension.

Please note this change in location for a School Board meeting.

The starting time (from the November 19 District announcement) will be 5:30PM. This may be the starting time of an Executive Session, followed by the open, public session.

Check the Agenda, which will be available on the District's website on about November 27, for the starting time of the public session and also to confirm the location. Agendas are normally published on the Thursday before a Tuesday Board meeting. Since that Thursday is Thanksgiving Day, the Agenda may be available one day early.

Typically, Special Called Board Meetings do not allow Public Participation.

Perhaps the District would be willing to explain to parents of the students to be affected by this change -

  1. why this board meeting is a Special Called Meeting, rather than a Regular Meeting
  2. why it is at Jackson Creek, instead of at R2i2 or a closer school
  3. why it is scheduled for 5:30PM, which likely eliminates attendance by many parents, who might be commuting home from work, caring for children, or feeding them dinner
  4. why this is being rushed through

Discipline Update

The Discipline Update at last night's Special-Called Board Meeting was fascinating. This portion of the November 19, 2019 meeting begins at 1:10:40 on the YouTube recording's counter.

Why wasn't the room packed with parents, especially parents concerned about a perceived disparity in discipline among one portion of the student body.

One reason that parents weren't there is they may not have known about the meeting. At the end of last week's Regular Meeting, Supt. Davis announced that there would be a Special Called Board Meeting on December 3, 2019. He did not mention any Special Called Board Meeting for November 19.

Surely, the November 19 meeting was in the works and planned. And scheduled. I learned of it yesterday morning from a Facebook announcement.

What does Mr. Robert have to say about Special Meetings?

"The reason for special meetings is to deal with important matters that may arise between regular meetings and that urgently require action by the society before the next regular meeting." (Robert, Henry. Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 10th Edition. New York. Perseus Publishing, HarperCollins Publishers. 2000. p.89)

There was an analyst present who explained the first set of statistics. Unfortunately, he was not clearly introduced by name. Staff then presented some slides.

Hopefully, those slides will be included in the video-recording of the meeting. I recommend that you view and study them.

For example, a comparison was made of disciplinary hearings scheduled during the first quarter of this school year and last.
Q1 2018-2019 99 Hearings
Q1 2019-2020 157 Hearings
This is a 159% increase.

And this slide:
Number of Instances of Expulsions, first quarter last year compared to this year.
Q1 2018-2019 5
Q1 2019-2020 3

Trustee Shadd noticed this and asked how there could be so many more hearings and, yet, fewer expulsions. Part of the answer, in my opinion, is that Q1 2019-2020 is not over yet.

But does the number of Hearings shock you?

Be sure to look at the pie-charts that were part of the presentation. They showed, by percentage, the number of offenses by Disciplinary Level (there are three Levels: I, II and III.) Pay particular attention to the  Levels of Disciplinary Offenses between Elementary, Middle and High School students. These should be on the YouTube and District recordings of the November 19, 2019 Special Meeting.

Read here soon for a discussion of the Disciplinary Levels, as found the Board Policies.

Robert's Rules rule

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?