17512 Columbia

SPECIAL MEETING outcomes | January 25, 2017

In Uncategorized on January 25, 2017 at 8:01 pm

Tonight’s School Board SPECIAL MEETING lasted 29 minutes from the convening time of 5:30 pm.

All the directors were accounted for at the beginning of the meeting; Barry Ford called in for the meeting. Perhaps a dozen or so citizens were present, too. (Later in the meeting, Ford’s connection may have been lost as he did not vote on motions.

The board directors voted on a motion to select the only applicant they “interviewed” – Jenna Irene Geesey.

Frank Doutrich had filed a petition with the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas on January 9 at the Lancaster County Prothonotary’s Office Website. You can read the documents here.

He found out today as he went to the courthouse for information that his petition had been denied. Here’s the reason why:

ORDER ENTERED AND FILED.
THE COURT FINDS THE DOCUMENT SUBMITTED FOR FILING FAILS TO CONFORM TO EITHER THE REQUIREMENTS OF SECTION 315 OF THE PA SCHOOL CODE OR LANCASTER COUNTY RULES OF COURT. CONSEQUENTLY, ANY RELIEF ANTICIPATED BY THE FILING IS DENIED AND THE CASE IS DISMISSED.

BY THE COURT: DENNIS E. REINAKER, PRESIDENT JUDGE

COPIES W/236 NOTICE MAILED ON 1/25/17 TO:
COLUMBIA BOROUGH SCHOOL DISTRICT, 200 N. 5TH ST., COLUMBIA, PA 17512
FRANK J. DOUTRICH, 1001 IRONVILLE PIKE, COLUMBIA, PA 17512 – HAND DELIVERED AT COUNTER

Doutrich posed several question to the board’s legal counsel who stated several times that the filing did not conform to Section 315 of the Pennsylvania
School Code or the rules of the court.

Here’s the signed court order issued today time stamped at 3:16 pm.

On January 20, Columbia news, views & reviews posted these points; they’re still relevant today in an after the fact manner.

  • It reminds us of a “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” moment. Small-town citizen tries to do the right thing and follows the letter of the law to the best of his understanding and ability. Does the right thing! And gets ambushed by big-time legal experts.
  • This kind of issue – citizen petitioning the court to act – when a school board misses a deadline according to the law has little precedent in Pennsylvania. We could find only one obscure and decades old case. The courts, evidently, are reluctant to act (perhaps because of big-time legal experts’ communications with the courts whether transparent or not).
  • In that 1966 case finding, though the courts have “exclusive power to fill such vacancy” – the decision sided with the school board. “Although the remaining members of The Gaston County Board of Education have failed to perform their statutory duty to fill the vacancy on the Board within thirty days after it occurred, it was error for the trial court to order an election under G.S. 115-24 to fill the vacancy.”
  • We believe that, pretty much, sounds like the line used several times by legal counsel.
  • We believe that even though citizens try to do the right thing – the right thing is not always what the laws state – nor what any average, upstanding citizen looking at the facts would decide is “the right thing.”

Board director Charles Leader spoke to the need to adhere to the Board Policy concerning “Attendance at Meetings via Electronic Communications.”

He stated his displeasure with the call-in communications at the last board of directors meeting and stated that the procedures have to be followed, at least, until the School District can enhance its teleconferencing platforms.

The “Attendance at Meetings via Electronic Communications” policy states:

Authority

The Board recognizes that factors such as illness, travel, schedule conflicts and weather conditions can make impossible the physical presence of a Board member at a Board meeting, and that electronic communications can enable a Board member to participate in a meeting from a remote location.

A Board member shall be able to attend a Board meeting, and participate in Board deliberations and voting, through electronic communications, but only under extraordinary circumstances.[1]

The Board authorizes the administration to provide the equipment and facilities required to implement this Board procedure.

Guidelines

A Board member who attends a meeting through electronic communications shall be considered present only if the member can hear everything said at the meeting and all those attending the meeting can hear everything said by that member. If the Board President determines either condition is not occurring, s/he shall terminate the Board member’s attendance through electronic communications.

A majority of Board members shall be physically present at a Board meeting when a Board member attends through electronic communications.

To attend a Board meeting through electronic communications, a Board member shall comply with the following:

  1. Submit such request to the Board President at least three (3) days prior to the meeting.
  2. Ensure that the remote location is quiet and free from background noise and interruptions.
  3. Participate in the entire Business portion of the Board meeting.

The Director of Extra-Curricular Activities, Columbia Senior High School position announcement is now posted at the Website. Last week it was posted as an “internal posting.” According to board directer, Janet Schwert –  Extra-Curricular Chair, this has been the district’s operating practice for years – internal posting first, followed by an announcement to the general population.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:59 pm.

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