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Brown leaves SB on its own

Superintendent leaves the meeting; School Board goes  into closed session

The King George School Board this week added a closed session to its special budget meeting, which had been called for the sole purpose of discussion of proposals for School Board’s 2011-12 budget request.
The added closed session was “for the purpose of reviewing the investigation of the allegation of harassment by a School Board employee of a parent.”
The School Board had first added that topic to a closed session at last week’s meeting, which already had scheduled a closed session for “personnel.”

There were at least three curious things about this week’s closed session.
VIOLATION OF SB POLICY
The first curious thing is that the School Board violated its own policy, BDB, which requires unanimous agreement to change the agenda or add an agenda item to a special meeting.
The policy states, “Business that does not come within the purposes set forth in the call of the meeting shall not be transacted at any special meeting of the School Board unless the quorum present is in unanimous agreement to consider additional items of business.”
That has always been interpreted to require a motion to amend the agenda that results in a unanimous affirmative vote.
This time, there was no motion and no vote.
Instead Superintendent Candace Brown stated prior to the budget discussion that she wanted to add a closed meeting and had distributed a motion for convening it, with the wording as noted above.
VIOLATION OF STATE CODE?
A second curious thing about the closed meeting session is that Brown did not attend it.
In fact, after the budget discussion, she donned her coat and was gathering her belongings to leave. That was noticed by School Board member Lynn Pardee.
Pardee asked her if she was leaving. Brown said she was, adding that Dick Roberts would remain.
Roberts is assistant superintendent. He likewise did not attend the closed meeting, but remained in the board room.
State Code, in a section titled “Superintendent to attend meetings” (§ 22.1-69), provides that “The division superintendent or, in his absence or inability to attend, a person designated by him and approved by the school board shall be present at all meetings of the school board except that on affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the school board, attendance of the division superintendent or his designee may be dispensed with at a special meeting of the school board. If matters pertaining to the division superintendent personally are under discussion at any such meeting, he shall remain subject to the call of the school board.”
Brown was not absent from the preceding part of the meeting.
Neither Brown nor Roberts were present at the portion of the meeting that was closed to the public.
There was no vote by the School Board to dispense with the presence of Brown or her designee, Roberts, during the closed meeting.
Not all members knew Brown would not be staying for the remainder of the meeting.
The Journal asked Chairman Renee Parker after the meeting why Brown had been allowed to leave. Parker said she would not comment.
ACTION AS A RESULT OF CLOSED MEETING?
The closed meeting session lasted about 25 minutes.
The four members returned to the boardroom from the back room and unanimously passed a motion to return to the open meeting and certify that the only topic discussed was the one identified in the motion convening the closed meeting.
Prior to adjourning, member Rick Randall asked, “Don’t we need to list our actions?”
Parker said, “No,” adding they were not taking any actions.
Pardee moved to adjourn and the motion passed unanimously.

Phyllis Cook
Staff Reporter

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