The Attorney General has already weighed in that the Board of Education violated state laws regarding closed session, stating:
“Based upon the limited but unrefuted information of record, which indicates only that Commissioner Pruitt’s employment contract was discussed and later amended following the closed session at issue, this office concludes that the Board violated the Act in discussing a general personnel matter that exceeded the scope of (state law) during its closed session."
These surround the fifth agenda item, election of a Chair and Vice-Chair.
Board Chairman Rich Gimmel refers to himself in the meeting as "interim chair" and mentions the need to have a new election to ensure an orderly transition.
The problem is that the board already has a chairman. That chairman is Rich Gimmel. As the elected Vice Chair of the board, Rich Gimmel became the chairman of the board on April 16, 2018 after the term of chairman Mary Gwen Wheeler expired. The Kentucky Board of Education Policy Manual makes this crystal clear:
In the event that a vacancy occurs prior to the end of the term of the chair, the vice chair will become chair and complete the rest of the previous chair’s term.
Or maybe he wasn't, because as soon as he moved for a special election for Chair and Vice-Chair, he violated board policy.
At about 1:37 PM, Chairman Gimmel made a motion to elect Chair and Vice Chair of the Board of Education. He then made a recommendation that the board waive the rules under pages 6 and 7 of the Policy Manual, regarding the timing of the election of officers and the “waiving” of the nomination committee procedure. This motion was passed.
The Kentucky Board of Education Policy Manual and the laws of the State of Kentucky are the guidelines by which the Board is to operate. Board Policy indicates under Rules of Order:
Except as modified by Board Policy, Robert’s Rules of Order (most recent edition) shall constitute the rules of parliamentary procedure applicable to all meetings of the board and its committees.
“Rules contained in the bylaws (or constitution) cannot be suspended— no matter how large the vote in favor of doing so or how inconvenient the rule in question may be—unless the particular rule specifically provides for its own suspension”
What is even stranger is that there really appears to have been no pressing need to do so. State law KRS 156.029 calls for a new Chair to be elected at the first regular meeting of the fiscal year, which would have been only two meetings away (if you include this special meeting). Could Rich Gimmel not have held out until then? Why would he volunteer to serve again as Vice-Chair if he knew that he couldn't handle the duties of Chair?
It is rather amusing to watch what happens when the floor is open to nominations. After Milton Seymore gets a nomination, new board member Joe Papalia nominates Hal Heiner to be Chair, and you can almost hear the voices in the room saying "dude, this isn't what we scripted out" as Hal Heiner makes a pause so pregnant it could deliver quintuplets, stutters a bit, and then says he defers to the nomination of Seymore because of his tenure on the board.
It appears that Joe Papalia hadn't read his policy manual either, because it clearly states that in order to be nominated as Chair or Vice-Chair, a member had to have served at least a year on the board.
Rich Gimmel then refers to Seymore as "interim Chairman", which makes you wonder why the election was necessary in the first place. Will they be nominating a new Chair in their next regular meeting as their Policy Manual and an Executive Order by Governor Matt Bevin states? Will they be nominating a new Chair in the meeting following the next as KRS 156.029 stipulates? Do they even know? Does it matter? Does anything matter?
Then comes the final bit of ridiculousness (if you don't count Milton Seymore's inept handling of the rest of the meeting and the farce of nominating Wayne Lewis). There is no election for Vice-Chair. Milton Seymore takes his seat as chair, stumbles his way through the rest of the meeting, and the meeting is adjourned without electing a Vice-Chair.
These are the people who will decide the fate of Jefferson County Schools. I've attended a few dozen JCPS board meetings and I've never seen a farce like the one on display on April 17, 2018. If they can't handle the simple task of following their own rules, how can they pass judgement on our Board or our schools.