Pickens County School Board Holds Meetings Without Public Input ...
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
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
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
“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
“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.