Police called to school board meeting

| 06 Sep 2012 | 01:01

— School board President Dave Richards requested that a police officer remove former board of education candidate Gary Steele from the meeting if Steele interrupted the proceedings one more time.
That came last Tuesday night after Steele shouted from the audience several times, waving a copy of Robert's Rules of Order to get the attention of the school board and admonishing them for not following the protocols set forth in the manual.
Richards banged the gavel to restore order and requested several times for Steele stop disrupting the meeting before Richards requested that the board take a 10-minute recess. Shortly after returning from the recess, a uniformed officer entered the meeting at Westbrook Elementary School and stood in the rear of the room observing. Richards noted publicly to the officer that Steele had been warned three times not to disrupt the meeting with his verbal outbursts and requested that the officer remove Steele from the meeting if he repeated the behavior again.
The officer left shortly after, and Steele again became vocal from the audience, urging the trustees to use their microphones. The meetings are recorded for television. Steele said the public will not be able to hear what they are saying over the airwaves if the microphones are not used.

Following the rules

One of the key points of contention about the rules was brought up by Trustee Jim Foody in discussing a motion for reimbursement for travel related expenses for board training. Business Administrator Barbara Francisco noted that the motion had to be approved in order to register trustees for the training event. Foody said previous motions that were presented listed all of the trustees names in one motion, although voted upon separately by the reading of each name. The motion should have failed, he noted, because each trustee abstained for themselves.
According to Robert's Rules, Foody continued, a separate motion should be presented, seconded and voted upon for each trustee. With the guidance of board attorney Marc Zitomer, the board amended the motion to reflect the changes as proposed, and each trustee’s registration and travel reimbursement was voted upon with a separate motion. Those who were not planning on attending the training were removed from the list.

New rule?

As has been the case in the past, Richards told Foody he had plenty of time to bring this procedural issue to him and Francisco prior to the meeting so they could look at it and make any needed changes. Instead, Richards said, Foody waited until the public meeting to bring it up.
Trustee Wayne Gottlieb called it "gotcha games" and said soon it may be illegal to do that. Gottlieb reported there is pending legislation to amend the Open Public Meetings Act, disallowing such actions.
"Stop playing gotcha games at these meetings," Gottlieb told Foody.