As reported by Ron Barnett, Greenville News:
Two Pickens County School Board members and a charter school applicant are crying foul at the board chairman’s decision to cancel the board’s regular monthly meeting Monday night and hold it instead last Friday morning, with no opportunity for public input.
Chairman Judy Edwards said she rescheduled the meeting because she planned to be out of town this week, according to trustee Alex Saitta, one of the two board members who are complaining that holding meetings at unusual times has become a pattern this year which they suspect is aimed at limiting public access.
"Either there is a purposeful desire to have meetings when the public is unlikely to attend or there is a disregard for the public’s schedule and when they could attend," Saitta said. "It is not about the personal schedule of any one board member.
Henry Wilson, vice chairman of the board, said he was unable to attend the Friday morning meeting because of his work schedule and wasn’t given adequate notice to make arrangements to be there.
He said he also wasn’t asked if he could preside over the regular monthly meeting Monday in the chairman's absence.
Since the beginning of the year, the School Board has held four Saturday meetings and five meetings that started at 7AM or before.
Three of those Saturday meetings – at 6:30AM, 7AM, and 7:30AM, involved discussions of closing schools in the district
Anna Gainey, a member of the group attempting to start a charter school in Easley called Clearview Collegiate Academy, said she was upset when she learned that Monday’s meeting would be canceled because she had intended to speak in support of its application during the public session.
Friday’s 9AM meeting didn’t include a public session, and the first item on the agenda was cancellation of the October 24, 2016 meeting
The motion passed, 3-1, with Saitta opposing, and Wilson unable to attend the meeting.
“Just like everybody else, I’ve got a job and I’ve got a schedule that’s a week or two out in advance,” Wilson told The News. “The last two times I’ve missed these meetings, it’s because they’re basically only letting me know two days beforehand.
“Public schools is the business of the public and should be done in a public way.”
Clearview Collegiate Academy has submitted an application to the district to operate a charter school in which students would be earning college credit in high school. It opted to try to get approval through the local district rather than the state Charter School District.
“I have pulled myself away from my job and my family in order to fight for something I believe in and I don’t even get a chance to talk in public about it,” she told The News.
Addendum Alex Saitta:
When they called for a vote to cancel Monday's evenings regular meeting, I asked why are they cancelling the meeting? The chairman said she has scheduled this special meeting Friday at 9 am because she would be out of town next week. I then said, a chairman has never tried to cancel a regular Monday evening meeting because they were not going to be here. The vice-chairman has the job to run the regularly scheduled meeting when the chairman is out. I voted against cancelling the Monday night meeting. It passed 3 to 1.
The meetings are for the public, are scheduled when the public and the press is available to attend -- weekday evenings.
I also object to the developing trend of regularly having meetings when the public and press is unlikely to attend. Look at these dates and times of many meetings this year.
Jan 30, Sat 7 am,
Feb 6, Sat 6:30 am
Mar 12, Sat 7:30 am
Apr 12, 7 am
Apr 21, 7 am
Jul 21, 7 am
Aug 6, 12:30 pm
Sep 23, 8:30 am
Oct 21, 9 am
Henry Wilson has not been able to attend the last two because they were during working hours.
That’s 9 meetings this year on off-days or off-hours of the day. Either there is a purposeful desire to have meetings when the public is unlikely to attend or there is a disregard for the public’s schedule and when they could attend.
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