www:thehunterreport.com

 

 ELIMINATING PUBLIC FROM PUBLIC EDUCATION

Kenny Ridings (L), Gary Ubben, Phil Moffett, Joan Lovelace, Jason Vance, Bobby Johnson JR, Leroy Tate (R)

MUZZLING THE PUBLIC 

By: Pat Hunter

Starting in 2008 through 2010, the Loudon County Board of Education voted to add public comments regarding matters on and off to the agenda, at the start and end of meetings. This procedure came to an abrupt halt at the Sept. 6the school board workshop. THE HUNTER REPORT has video recordings of board workshop and regular meetings where board discussion took place and meeting minutes of board votes.

Prior to the start of the Sept. 6th workshop meeting several citizens noticed the agenda looked differently. The public comment period at the start of the workshop agenda was gone. Richard Truitt asked who made the change and when was this done? Chairman Bobby Johnson JR just ignored questions and concerns.

Chairman Bobby Johnson JR. opened the meeting. Director of schools Jason Vance led prayer and pledge.  Chairman Johnson then said Director's Updates.

Director Vance spoke hurriedly “We” have modified our school board workshops slightly. We use to have two places for visitors to recognize the uh school board". Vance recommended leaving the comment period at the end of the meeting as. His reasoning, "We’re aren’t going to do anything and make any motions tonight. We’re just going to speak about items for the agenda and so visitors (citizens) really don’t have an opportunity to influence you guys since we’re not going to be voting".

For regular meetings Vance commented "...I would recommend that instead of having it twice that we have visitors visitors recognition at the top of school board meetings about items on the agenda." In other words Vance was proposing eliminating the second public comment period and the public would only be allowed to speak on matters on the agenda.

The agenda format policy change did not go before the Policy Committee, which is chaired by Ric Best. Policy Chairman Ric Best felt that in general the disposition of agenda items was at the discretion of the chair. "I believe that if we research all the way back through, we’re not going to find a policy where someone voted to do it and I’ll be real surprised if we do." As Best spoke Craig Simon shook his head and commented "not since I've been here."

Craig Simon had forgotten that in 2010, he and the majority of board members voted to allow public comment twice on the agenda, at the start and end of workshops and regular meetings. Not every board member agreed, a small minority voted NO including Leroy Tate, Larry Proaps, and Bill Marcus. Proaps and Marcus are no longer on the school board.

Not too surprising, Leroy Tate was ok with changing the rules on public comment.  

Look at past board meeting minutes Hunter said.

Parents and community residents have spoken out about no heat in classrooms, no AC in classrooms in sweltering heat, camera ban at public meetings, gas leaks and mold at Greenback School, SRO’s in schools and related funding, out-of county students, and the demotions and transfers of two popular principles that were reassigned to teaching jobs. Most recently, citizen concerns have surfaced over the director, and school board's lack of financial details of the $43 Million school building program. 

Limiting Free Speech and censoring citizens for political ends undercut accountability, transparency, and public trust. Taking the public out of public education is unacceptable.

How many policies did the school board break to eliminate public comment?

Kenny Ridings (L), director Vance, Craig Simon, Bobby Johnson JR (back) Ric Best, Leroy Tate (R)

MEETING AFTER THE MEETING

MUZZLING THE PUBLIC

Board member Craig Simon said that the board wasn't eliminating public comment.  "But you're still getting to speak at the board meeting, Simon said. You said the word "Eliminate' and we're not doing that. It's just at the beginning". 

Definition of Eliminate -

a) to put an end to or get rid of

b) to remove from consideration

Just look at the agendas of Sept 1, Sept 6 and Sept 13 to see the difference 

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LOUDON   COUNTY   BOARD   OF   EDUCATION

BOARD MEETING AGENDA

September 01, 2012

  10:00am

 C/O Boardroom

County Office Building

 

              Opening of Meeting – Chairman Newman

              Pledge and Prayer – Director Vance

  

I.                    Approval of Agenda – Chairman Newman

 

*Recognition of Visitors:  This is the time for anyone who wishes to address the Board about any matter on the agenda or not on the agenda.  (This time is limited to a total of 30 minutes for comments.  Anyone wishing to address the Board should limit his/her remarks to allow for others.)

 

II.          Election of Board Officers

 

III.        SRO Discussion

 

*Recognition of Visitors:  This is the time for anyone who wishes to address the Board about any matter on the agenda or not on the Agenda.   (Anyone wishing to address the Board should limit his/her remarks to allow for others.)

##################################################################################

 

LOUDON  COUNTY  BOARD  OF  EDUCATION

 

 Workshop

 September 06, 2012

6:30 pm

  LCTC

I.    Call to Order

 

II.   Pledge & Prayer

 ?

The School Board Eliminated this comment period

... matter "on the agenda or not on the Agenda"

 THE HUNTER REPORT

 III.    Director’s Updates

        a.       Recognition of Awards Schools

        b.       Coach Approvals

        c.        Budget Amendments

        d.       Board of Distinction

                  1.  Retreat

                  2.  Meetings for Policy Reviews

        e.       Consideration of LES/FLMS Combination

 

Recognition of Visitors – This is the time for anyone who wishes to address the Board about any matter on the agenda or not on the Agenda.  (Anyone wishing to address the Board should limit his/her remarks to allow for others.)

 ####################################################################

 

LOUDON   COUNTY   BOARD   OF   EDUCATION

 

BOARD MEETING AGENDA

September 13, 2012

  7:00pm

 Courthouse Annex

           

 

              Opening of Meeting – Chairman Johnson

              Pledge and Prayer – Director Vance

 

 

I.                    Approval of Agenda – Chairman Johnson

 

II.          Kaity Giles - LHS Student Representative

 

III.        Taylor Gilmore  - GBS Student Representative

 

The School Board eliminated ..."any matter not on the Agenda"

THE HUNTER REPORT

*Recognition of Visitors:  This is the time for anyone who wishes to address the Board about any matter on the agenda.  (This time is limited to a total of 30 minutes for comments.  Anyone wishing to address the Board should limit his/her remarks to allow for others.)

 

 IV.         Approval of  Minutes

              a.           August 09, 2012 Board Meeting

              b.          September 1, 2012 Special Called Meeting

 

V.          Recognition of Rewards Schools

 

VI.         Approval of Coaches

 

VII.       Approval of Budget Amendments               

 

VIII.     Building Projects

 

  Adjourn

 

The School Board eliminated this comment period

... any matter "on the agenda or not on the agenda".

THE HUNTER REPORT

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09-17-2012