Thursday, August 5, 2021

03:00 !!! and Not One Second More


Have you ever noticed that, at Richland 2 school board meetings, members of the public get Exactly 03:00 minutes to speak during Public Participation?

Somebody (a staffer?) starts the timer, and then the speaker's time erodes as he (or she) makes his comments. For several months the timer was displayed on a screen seen by board members but behind the speaker. The District may now have figured out how to show the remaining time to the speaker, who does not have eyes in the back of his head.

But you definitely know when time is up, because the Chair will say so. And don't you dare try to exceed that time.

What happened in Pennsylvania recently when a resident of the West Chester (Pennsylvania) School District was addressing the school board on the topic of Critical Race Theory? Board president (Mr.) Chris McCune must have had his stop-watch in one hand and the gavel in the other, and he called time. Apparently, Ms. Anita Edgarian wasn't quite finished with her remarks.

McCune announced that her time was up. Then he quickly stood, left his chair, walked off the stage and over to Ms. Edgarian and ripped the microphone away from her. Then he pointed her at the exit.

It actually looked like assault and battery to me. I wonder whether she'll see it that way. Or harassment? Intimidation? Or infringing on her right to speak, even if she was past her three minutes?

You can see it all right here. Watch the video in the article. Obviously, he never should have stood or left his seat or left the stage or approached the speaker. He lost his temper. Maybe his ego was bruised.

Can you see this happening right here in Richland 2?

Why is the Richland 2 school board so attentive to the time used by a parent or community member, but allows the entire board's time to be wasted by 3-5 minute introductions of the Inspirational Moment

Does the board even listen to parents or community members? Or do some board members just look past the speaker and watch the countdown timer?

I think it was about two years ago that I tried to include two issues in my three-minute speaking time at Richland 2. I was cut off. When I objected, I was told my time was up. It was a good thing that I yielded and left the microphone when I did. I learned later that a deputy sheriff (extra hired security) was approaching from behind to remove me. 

Since nothing had been said to security during the meeting, he must have been cued up ahead of time. Which board member or senior staff person had set that up? As I look back on that night, I've decided it was a really good thing that I wasn't surprised by a hand on my shoulder. Might I have defended myself from physical assault?

Of course, there is nothing in Board Policy about addressing the board on more than one issue. I guess their feelings were hurt. Oh, my; the poor sensitive board members ...  Some of them should consider therapy. I can think of at least three who would benefit from it.