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MDUSD trustee says three items were left off Feb. 27 agenda

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 at 12:03 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

[NOTE: This blog post has been revised to include new information from Board President Sherry Whitmarsh.]

Mt. Diablo school board trustee Cheryl Hansen sent me a copy of a Feb. 13 memo she sent to Board President Sherry Whitmarsh and Superintendent Steven Lawrence regarding three items she wanted to add to the Feb. 27 board meeting agenda.

Hansen said the items did not appear, even though she gave the required two weeks’ notice. Although Hansen said neither Whitmarsh nor Lawrence informed her the items would not appear on the agenda, Board President Sherry Whitmarsh told me she called Hansen and left her a message asking her to call and discuss the reasons the items would be left off.

Here is the memo:

“February 13, 2012

TO: Sherry Whitmarsh and Steven Lawrence
FROM: Cheryl Hansen
RE: Agenda Items for February 27, 2012 Board Meeting

This is to notify you that I am placing on the February 27, 2012 Board meeting agenda the following items:

Type: Information
Subject: Board Bylaw 9324 – Minutes and Recordings

Summary: Board minutes and recordings are important communication and
documentation tools for the public record. Current Board Bylaw 9324 does not adequately and clearly provide direction for the composition of minutes and recordings. Therefore, Board Bylaw 9324 should be revised to read as follows:

Minutes and Recordings

The secretary of the Governing Board shall keep minutes and record all official Board actions.

The minutes of each regular or special meeting shall include an accurate account of individual Board member or staff comments made during discussion of information and/or action agenda items and motions.

The minutes shall also include an accurate summary of the public speakers’ comments made during the course of the Board meeting, including the speaker’s name, title, and key comments.

In the interest of accuracy and context, any Board member, staff, and/or member of the public may submit a written copy of their statements or discussion points which shall be included as an addendum to the Board minutes.

Video or Audio Recording

Recordings made during regular or special Board meetings are public records. They shall be kept for at least 365 days and upon request shall be made available for inspection by members of the public on a district recorder without charge.

Type: Action
Subject: Format of the Public Input and Informational Meetings

Summary: As was stated in my original summary for my agenda item entitled Public Input and Informational Meetings that was approved by the Board on February 6, 2012, the format of these meetings shall include:
1) What’s working
2) What could be improved
3) Input on decisions made
4) Questions and answers
5) Suggestions and ideas – where should we be heading and what should we be doing to provide better service, representation, responsiveness, and accountability to the MDUSD community.

Type: Action
Subject: Televised Board Meetings

Summary: The Board directs the superintendent to investigate and develop a plan of action to televise to the public all regular and special Board meetings, either through videostreaming or through Contra Costa Television (CCTV). This plan will include a working budget that itemizes both start up and ongoing costs. The superintendent will make his report of findings and recommendations to the Board at our March 26, 2012 meeting.”

Whitmarsh told me today that there were good reasons for leaving the items off.

“Either we’ve already talked about them on previous agenda items,” Whitmarsh said, “or they were already proposed to be on future agenda items.”

Whitmarsh said she did not know why Hansen didn’t call her to ask why the items were left off. She also said that items requested by other trustees have also sometimes not appeared on agendas for similar reasons.

Do you think the board should have considered these items at its Feb. 27 meeting, as requested by Hansen?

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