New BOE Chairman proposes Committees

Rubber RuleWho follows the rules

Who can speak & Who can't

By: Pat Hunter

September 28, 2008

There were several matters that were discussed at Thursday's workshop meeting including proposed committees and board policies, more specifically who is allowed to add items on the agenda or speak at meetings.

Last year, former Chairman Bobby Johnson, Jr. abolished all committees and all board members were requested to attend all meetings concerning school issues and matters.

Now, new Chairman Leroy Tate has proposed forming committees to address various tasks. Tate said that it would work smoother and he wanted to quit allot of the "bickering" back and forth. How quickly they forget who was on the opposing team last year.

At least two board members spoke out about Tate's idea, Van Shaver and Steve Harrelson. Shaver asked, what's our policy about committees, Leroy. Tate looked baffled as Shaver thumbed through the policy paperwork and read aloud from the committee policy, " The Board shall operate without standing committees, except for the Executive Committee; however, special committees composed of board members may be appointed by the chairman at the direction of the Board and as the needs of the Board shall require. Such committees shall be discharged when the work is finished or earlier by a majority vote of the entire Board."

Tate was proposing committees but he was not directed by the board.  Although the current committee policy contradicted Chairman Tate's stance, he then spoke about changing the policy to tailor it more to the Board's liking instead of TSBA's policies.

A committee could gather together to discuss a subject and make a recommendation to the full Board for a vote. Harrelson felt that process was repetitive and non-committee members would end up asking lots of questions to committee members about what happened in committee and that process would just waste more time.

Tate didn't not want to address all the policies that were on the workshop agenda. Shaver mentioned that all the committees would have to abide by the Open Meetings including announcements of public meetings and Tate agreed. Tate asked the board if anyone had a problem serving on the committees but no one responded.

Putting Items on the Agenda 

It's all in who you are

School Board member Van Shaver spoke about the agenda. Shaver mentioned that there was no specific policy or protocol for workshop agendas and meetings. Shaver had submitted some items for workshop discussion and the inference was that Shaver did not submit his information 7 days. The 7 days pertained to the monthly board business meeting and no set rules or policies for the workshops, which are informal meetings so "we can legally come together to speak to one another" about issues. Shaver said that he noticed that there were several new items added to the agenda and he asked that his items be added also. Tellico Village school board member Craig Simon agreed that items should be added to the workshop agenda for discussion.

Chairman Tate argued for a structured agenda with date constraints. But Tate skirted the issue of why others were allowed to add new items to the agenda while Shaver was not! 

Shaver wanted to discuss the financial audits of the Activity Funds estimated at $700,000 plus, which were distributed to the Board at last month's meeting and an update on GCA Cleaning Services from the Chairman, Update on Maintenance Custodian from the Chairman, Update on Highway 321 land from the Chairman and a discussion about what happened at North Middle School involving an SRO (police officer). Shaver was referring to the apprehension of a parent with outstanding warrants. Chairman Tate said that School Director Wayne Honeycutt was to come back in a reasonable amount of time to address the issues. Honeycutt did not say when he would be ready to report back to the Board.

As Chairman Tate started past citizen comment on the agenda, he was asked if he would accept public comment from visitors and he agreed. The School Board was asked to consider a change to the agenda policy. The proposal was to allow citizen comments on non-agenda items and for the School Board to consider publishing the agenda packets to the website so the public could participate and be better informed.

Click to view video Richard Truitt, a resident from the 5th District mentioned that he had a folder full of emails why he couldn't speak at a School Board meeting. He had followed the School Board's policy and he had submitted his request 7 days beforehand by email to the Central Office to be placed on the business agenda, as per the School Board's policy. Instead, an email reply informed him that he could speak at a workshop meeting as per School Director Wayne Honeycutt. 

A citizen can send it in, Truitt said, and the Board of Directors, the Chairman and School Director, could decide what is placed on the agenda and they had veto power on anything that's put on agenda so what you say isn't worth much.

Evidently you don't want people to speak at Board meetings, he said. Chairman Tate mentioned that he was not aware but he mentioned that Truitt send his request, 7 days ahead of time.

Truitt offered to let the School Board see all the emails. I am not on the agenda yet, so your policy isn't what you say that it is. School Board member Craig Simon said we can't do anything about the past but we can do something about the future.

Truitt appears to have followed the policy and submitted his request in ample time but he was not allowed to speak at the monthly business meeting.

School Board member Van Shaver was called on the carpet for not submitting his agenda items in advance of the workshop even though the School Board did not adopt specific rules and policies, which govern workshop meetings. Others were allowed to add things to the agenda after the fact, while Shaver had to plead his case to the School Board. 

School Director Wayne Honeycutt did not explain why his office would not allow a citizen who followed the policy to speak at a regular School Board meeting.

Could School Administrators be retaliating against Mr. Truitt for his opposition of the $50 Wheel Tax, which was soundly defeated, since Truitt was a vocal critic of the tax that stood to hurt the people that could least afford it, the poor?

Or is this a case where taxpayers are expected to write checks to pay for property taxes to help pay for schools, government and bailouts while taxpayers are asked to keep quiet and mind their own business? 

To View Agenda policy click here.