Regional School Committee meeting 7/14
Temporary Chair of the Amherst Regional School Committee Lawrence O'Brien is still sputtering over the successful coup d'état orchestrated by Vice Chair Trevor Baptiste.
Five duly elected members of the committee -- a quorum -- attended a meeting that was properly posted in three of the four towns and was briefly posted properly in Amherst but cancelled when the ruling establishment felt threatened.
Did the meeting violate the Open Meeting Law? Technically, yes.
But not because of secrecy -- which is generally what the OML targets. Since well over 50 members of the general public showed up, along with three TV news stations and reporters from two newspapers, I would deem that a pretty OPEN meeting.
The renegade meeting was called to countermand a memo criticising Amilcar Shabazz issued by three school committee chairs with absolutely no deliberation of the three public bodies they chair. Now that sounds to me like a violation of the Open Meeting Law.
And the irony doesn't stop there. They were critical of Dr. Shabazz for releasing information (not entirely correct) about a violent racial school incident where three black youths ganged up on a white youth doing real physical damage in the process.
As usual the super secretive PUBLIC schools handled it "internally," not breathing a word to anyone, including the Amherst Police Department or the local District Attorney, who certainly had grounds for a "hate crime" indictment.
At the 6/24 Regional School Committee meeting where O'Brien was elected temporary Chair the committee later went into Executive Session for "litigation" discussion even though the written published agenda stated it was for "Collective Bargaining."
A clear violation of OPM. And these days the Attorney General wants more detail published when going into Executive Session. If for "Collective Bargaining" then with what unions? Or if it's "litigation" is it a negligence suit filed over an injury or a MCAD complaint?
This coming August the Regional School Committee will head to an undisclosed location for a weekend "retreat". That strikes me as a violation of Open Meeting Law.
In 2010 FIVE school committee chairs (with no deliberations of their respective committees) issued an official memo to the District Attorney asking for an investigation of Amherst School Committee member Catherine Sanderson, hoping the DA would muzzle her.
The DA ignored their whiny request.
The more voices brought into the public process the better. That's the very heart and soul of Open Meeting.