New Hartford NY Online YouTube Channel

To find videos of Town Board, Planning Board, and Zoning Board Board meetings, click here!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

NHCS School Board President shuts down Board Member Flemma during “Other Business”…

Toward the end of every New Hartford school board agenda is an item called “Other Business”. Quite frequently, board members bring up items that they would like to address.

However, last night when Board Member Flemma asked to be recognized for comment, he was told by Board President Luker that he could not speak because he did not submit his item to her and Superintendent Nole for approval to appear on the agenda four (4) days prior to the meeting as required by board policy. Ms. Luker explained that "Other Business" is merely the time for Superintendent Nole to bring up items for discussion that occurred between the time of the agenda and the meeting.

Until last evening, board members have routinely brought up items under "Other Business". Ms. Luker even brought up an item under "Other Business" at the May 27, 2014 board meeting. We will get back to her item at that meeting in another blog.

While it may be board policy that all agenda items have to be run by the board president and school superintendent at least four (4) days prior to the meeting, nowhere in the policies could we find where "Other Business" is exclusively time for the Superintendent’s discussion items or that board members could not bring up an item for discussion unless the school superintendent gave his okay.

For clarification, we consulted the school board bylaws which are the written rules for conduct of the school board. Likewise, we could find nothing in the Bylaws of the Board of Education regarding Ms. Luker’s explanation of "Other Business".

What we did find in the board’s bylaws was:

J. Parliamentary Procedure

Unless otherwise provided in the Board's Bylaws, the Board shall conduct all of its meetings in accord with Robert's Rules of Order Revised.
So since the board’s by-laws are silent on the subject of what qualifies as "Other Business" on the school board agenda and/or whether board members can discuss matters that have not been “blessed” by the school board president or school superintendent, we followed the directive in the school's bylaws and consulted Roberts Rules of Order Revised which states:
An agenda is essentially a program or listing of the events and items of business that will come before the meeting. It may be a detailed program covering several meetings in a session, or it may be a short list of the items of business to be handled in a routine board meeting. The agenda may (but doesn't have to) indicate the hour for each event, or it may just show the total time allotted to each item.
The agenda may be adopted (that is, be made binding on the meeting), or it may simply be a guide to keep the meeting on track. Adopting your agenda is sometimes a good idea because it gets everybody in agreement with the meeting plan at the beginning of the meeting.
Robert’s Rules has also has a FAQ:
Question 14: How can I get an item on the agenda for a meeting?

For a proposed agenda to become the official agenda for a meeting, it must be adopted by the assembly at the outset of the meeting.

At the time that an agenda is presented for adoption, it is in order for any member to move to amend the proposed agenda by adding any item that the member desires to add, or by proposing any other change.

It is wrong to assume, as many do, that the president “sets the agenda.” It is common for the president to prepare a proposed agenda, but that becomes binding only if it is adopted by the full assembly, perhaps after amendments as just described. [RONR (11th ed.), p. 372, ll. 24-35; see also p. 16 of RONRIB.]
To the best of our knowledge, the school board has never adopted the board president’s agenda at the start of the meeting; therefore, Robert’s Rules say it is a proposed agenda, a guide, that can be amended by any member.

We decided to check out other local school districts to see how they handle discussions of board members for items not listed on their agenda.

Sauquoit Valley Central School has an agenda item “Miscellaneous Topics” that according to meeting minutes appears to be the time for board members to make comments not listed on the agenda. Interestingly, they also have a Public Comment section at the beginning and the end of each board meeting.

Whitesboro Central School has an item called “Discussion” that likewise appears to be a time for board members to discuss items not on the agenda. They also have a Public Comment section at the beginning and the end of each board meeting.

Clinton Central School has an item on the agenda called “Questions by Board of Education” which is self-explanatory. Their public comment time is toward the end of the meeting.

Holland Patent has an agenda item “Board Forum”, again self-explanatory. Their public comments are at the beginning of the meeting as are New Hartford’s.

It would appear that New Hartford Central School's by-laws do not match their policies and that policies are selectively applied depending on the person(s) involved. It also appears that New Hartford Central School Board Officers and administration does not like open discussion.

So the questions we ask…

Is the board policy as outlined by Ms. Luker and Superintendent Nole at last evening’s board meeting unreasonable?

Should school board members be allowed to speak during a meeting without the board president and superintendent’s blessings at least four (4) days prior to the meeting?

Are the administration and board president merely trying to stifle questions by a certain board member?

As taxpayers In the New Hartford Central School District, do you find it disturbing that the school board president and school superintendent try to control what discussions takes place in the public eye and are willing to go so far as to stifle discussion by board members?

Here is the video of that portion of the meeting.

You will find the entire meeting on our YouTube Channel later today.


Anonymous said...

It is a SAD day in the history of the New Hartford School District when both the BOARD President (Kim Luker) and her minions attempt to minimize BOARD Member Edward Flemma. Mr. Flemma was elected by the New Hartford residents with the intent of enforcing transparency and accountability for the tax dollars spent by the School Superintendent et al. Nowhere, does it allow for three women on this BOARD to run rough shod over Mr. Flemma.

Anonymous said...

What is the point Mr. FLemma is trying to get across?

New Hartford, NY Online said...

We can't and won't speak for him. You might want to give him a call; he is always willing to talk to the public.

Anonymous said...

This was unbelievable. It is very clear that Mr Flemma was trying to bully his way into taking over the pulpit. If the policy is that agenda items be submitted four days in advance he should follow that. Ms. Luker simply said we can add your item to the next agenda but Mr. Flemma huffed and puffed. It was clear from the body language of all the other board members that they are tired of the antics of Mr. Flemma.

New Hartford, NY Online said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
This was unbelievable.


You are certainly entitled to your opinion.

We can't imagine anyone who doesn't want an elected official to be able to address the board in public without being 'shut down' by the board president. We would bet the farm that you are a member of the "Friends & Family" club.

By the way, don't you find it interesting that Ms. Luker doesn't shut anyone else, including herself, down during "Other Business"?

Open government, my government!

Anonymous said...

Every time you don't agree you use the "Friends and Family remark". Not sure what you are talking about. Sounds like Flemma isn't happy with the results of the election for his cousin.

New Hartford, NY Online said...

Anonymous said...

Every time you don't agree you use the "Friends and Family remark". Not sure what you are talking about. Sounds like Flemma isn't happy with the results of the election for his cousin.

Now that's funny because we were thinking that every time you don't agree with us, you immediately trash someone. Hahaha!

At least we say you are entitled to your opinion. Guess you don't feel the same!

No one forces you to read our blog, my friend!

Anonymous said...

Another example of Ed Flemma the Bully!! He only likes the rules when they work for him.

...Now he tries to bully the VOLUNTEER Board members who were ALSO elected by the public (not just you Eddy) to protect our school and our kids. He's upset his cousin didn't get elected, so they could make a mockery of our great district and embarrass us. Get a job Eddy! Leave the decent hard working people of this town alone.

The above comment from Anonymous was edited because the writer made serious unsubstantiated personal attacks that have nothing to do with the instance reported in our blog.

These attacks written by an anonymous poster could be construed as defamation of character.

We ask that anyone who wants to comment on this blog either refrain from malicious personal attacks or sign your name so that the person being attacked can decide whether or not to haul your a$$ into court.

New Hartford NY Online