By Denise Dick
Discussions of the district bullying policy and creationism in the curriculum were sidelined at Tuesday’s city school board meeting by a claim of publicity motivation and one member storming out.
Toward the end of the three-hour meeting, board member Jackie Adair gathered her things and walked out, contending that other board members were trying to silence her.
During the reports portion of the meeting, Adair, who leads the board’s policy committee, contended that district employees weren’t following policy set by the school board. She referred to the bullying policy and referenced an incident that reportedly occurred at East High School.
Board President Brenda Kimble interrupted, saying board reports are supposed to address matters upon which the board is working. If Adair wants to talk about a particular incident, Kimble said, she needs to make a motion to amend the agenda accordingly.
When board member Dario Hunter asked where that rule is found in Robert’s Rules of Order, the meeting procedures most public meetings follow, Kimble said it was board policy, not Robert’s Rules.
Hunter asked what policy.
“I’ll let you know,” Kimble said. “I didn’t come to this meeting to throw this down in front of people. I came to pass resolutions and to move our children forward.”
Adair said she’s the only board member who makes reports and she’s always told she can’t or that the matter about which she wants to talk should be dealt with in the board’s monthly work sessions.
Hunter then asked Adair if the board approved any curriculum during her term in office that includes intelligent design.
She said it hadn’t.
Last week, the Daily Beast and the Jerusalem Post ran articles about a video in the district’s biology curriculum that espouses creationism.
The district’s executive director of teaching and learning told The Vindicator the district doesn’t teach creationism, but the video is included as a resource to teach students how to help determine the reliability of information.
At the beginning of the meeting, Hunter had tried to have a resolution added to the agenda to place a moratorium on “all instruction in intelligent design.”
That motion failed. Hunter and Corrine Sanderson voted in favor; Kimble, Ronald Shadd, Michael Murphy and Jerome Williams opposed. Adair hadn’t arrived at the meeting at the time of that vote.
Shadd, who heads the board’s curriculum committee, asked that Hunter’s resolution not be added to the agenda until the issue is reviewed by his committee.
Regarding bullying, Shadd said if the matter involves students and particular personnel, it should be discussed in executive session.
Adair then made a motion to amend the agenda to talk about the incident to which she referred.
Hunter seconded the motion. He said the board had spent 10 minutes discussing the procedure when Adair could have said what she wanted to say in less time.
Kimble then said the discussion, under Robert’s Rules, is limited to the motion.
Williams said he’s unfamiliar with the incident to which Adair referred and requested that she wait to bring it to the board’s next work session.
“It’s 8:30 and there are a number of things that she wants to talk about, and it’s just to get it in The Vindicator,” he said.
Hunter called that a personal attack on Adair as it questioned her motivation.
“It’s not a personal attack ...,” Williams argued. “At the end of the day, we’re here to move kids forward.”
Adair then questioned the work sessions, asking if the board had ever voted to conduct them.
Work sessions were among the recommendations from a consultant brought in by the former academic distress commission to provide training for board members. The consultant recommended eliminating board caucuses formerly conducted before the start of the regular meetings, and calling work sessions, as needed, to discuss issues.
“It wasn’t to have another meeting where members got paid,” Adair said.
She said she’s the only board member who regularly gives a report and board members were trying to silence her again.
“That’s because it’s 8:30,” Murphy said. “The reason for work sessions was so we didn’t have three-hour meetings.”
Tuesday’s meeting started at 5:30 p.m.
Adair then rescinded her motion to amend the agenda, gathered her belongings and left.
“I’m done,” she said.