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Friday, April 25, 2014

Usurpation...or just doing my job?

During the April 22, 2014 school board meeting, Board Member Ed Flemma asked several question regarding the authority of the school board president to act without input from the entire board:

We checked the New Hartford Central School Board Policies:
Policy 2000 – Bylaws

I. Organization

A. Powers and Duties

No member of the Board as an individual has the right to exercise the authority of the Board. A Board member has authority only when meeting with the full Board, unless he/she has been specifically delegated authority to act on behalf of the Board.

II. Duties of Members and Auxiliary Personnel

A. Duties of the President

It shall be the duty of the President to:

1. Preside at all meetings of the Board, and enforce the laws, rules and regulations governing the procedure of the Board;

2. Sign all documents as authorized and directed by the Board;

3. Appoint all committees, unless otherwise ordered by the Board;

4. Act as an ex-officio member of all standing and special committees of the Board;

5. Call special meetings of the Board, as provided in these Bylaws;

6. Perform such other duties as may customarily evolve upon the presiding officer of a legislative body or as may be prescribed by the Board.

Legal Ref: Section 1701, New York State Education Law.
School board policy would seem to mimic the advise of the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) in their document titled, The School Board President’s Handbook; A Resource for Effective Leadership, copyright 2011:
Although the board president’s powers are essentially no greater than those of any other board member (unless determined by board resolution), the board president will typically:

• Conduct board meetings in accordance with the law and district policy.

• Serve as CEO and CFO of the district (Local Fin. Law §2.00(s)(e), (5-a)(e), 30.00).

• Administer the oath of office to board members and district officers.

• Sign contracts, together with the superintendent, for the transportation of students (Educ. Law §3625).

• Participate in board actions as a regular voting member. The board president does not lose the ability to vote; indeed, it is expected on every matter and should not be re- served only for tie votes (Opn. of Counsel No. 70, 1 Ed Dept Rep 770 (1952)).

Board policy may stipulate additional board president’s duties, which may differ from district to district.
Board Clerk Ms. Aurelia Greico said that it is her understanding that all correspondence goes to the Superintendent’s office and then is either sent immediately to the board or placed in their Friday folders. Apparently that is not necessarily the case.

It would appear that board correspondence goes to the school superintendent and then he and the board president decide what will be given to the full board. It would also appear that the school board president confers with the school superintendent to determine and respond to policy questions absent input from the school board.

Unless a board resolution was adopted at some point permitting the school board president to act on behalf of the board without first consulting them, we couldn't find a policy giving the school board president authority to act independent of the board. Even when the chain of command starts with the administration, according to policy, it is the board that is listed as the next contact, NOT the board president acting alone. It would appear that Mr. Flemma makes a valid point and this writer would venture to guess that a majority of taxpayers would agree with Mr. Flemma.

There were no answers available on April 22, 2014; howver, Mr. Condro, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction has been asked to research and report his findings at the May 6, 2014 school board meeting.

We look forward to clarification as to board policy regarding the “chain of command”.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Its interestign to note that under Bob Nole the national NH school rankings have dropped from a high of 129 to 1023. Yet, School Board member Beth Soggs was carried from her sick bed in order to give the deciding vote to extend Bob Nole. Right now it seems like the NH School Board is just bit too chummy with the NH School administration. The School Board needs to remember that they work for us and NOT Bob Nole!

Check this link from a Syracuse news link:
Only one school in CNY made the top 500 national rankings