Thursday, November 21, 2019

Board Meeting Minutes and FOIA

This week's speaker at the Special Called Board Meeting on November 19, 2019 commented on requirements for Meeting Minutes. The speaker was retired attorney Helen McFadden.

The five minimum things that must be in Minutes are (See 21:40 on the YouTube recording):

  1. Date and Place
  2. Who is present and who is absent
  3. Substance of all matters proposed, discussed, or decided
  4. Recording the vote
  5. Any other information that is asked to be included by a member. "A member of the Board has an absolute right to get a reasonable amount of information included in the record and must put into the record in writing any recusal under Title VIII,: she said.

Ms. McFadden watched 6-8 hours of meetings and has never seen any member recuse himself. She assumed they are doing that. (They aren't, but perhaps no situation has arisen that would require it.)

Recently I suggested to the Board that a statement be included in the Minutes about the superintendent's cancellation of employees' right to carry a firearm at work on school grounds. I had read the Minutes after the Agenda was published and before the Board approved the Minutes, but no member of the Board felt included to request that his statement be included in the Minutes.

When you read the Minutes of a meeting, it is very difficult to know what took 1½-3 hours in a meeting. District Meetings could be much more complete.


At 1:08:27 on the recording Ms. McFadden pointed out that Richland 2 does not have a Board Policy on prejudice or bias, which is applicable to administrative hearings. She mentioned racial prejudice, religious prejudice, gender-based prejudice for matters of prejudice and bias.

Prejudice and bias are reasons for a board member to recuse himself or herself.

Her comment caused me to wonder whether at least three board members might have to recuse themselves from certain votes in the future, because they have spoken so extensively, persuasively and often on behalf of the District's black students. Could their attention to this one segment of the District's student body be considered prejudice or bias?

Ms. McFadden will be invited back to present a second part of her overall presentation. Hopefully, the District will give the public more than the 24 hours' notice of this special meeting that she mentioned earlier in her presentation, when she addressed the requirements of South Carolina state law.