Amilcar Shabazz addresses his former colleagues on the Regional School Committee
After an hour and 15 minutes of sometimes heated discussion the Amherst Regional School Committee voted unanimously to support a motion calling for them to enter into a discussion with the NAACP regarding their concerns over discipline disparities with a "facilitator" rather than entering into formal mediation.
Last week the Regional School Committee voted to allow three of their members to do exactly that, but the NAACP turned them down saying they wished to abide by the 1993 legal agreement and enter into formal mediation with the entire Committee.
A dozen spectators including three former Regional School Committee members in attendence
The original motion from Dan Robb called for exactly that, but was amended by Rick Hood to change the word mediation to facilitation. That amendment passed with five of nine supporting it: Katherine Appy, Kathleen Traphagen, Rick Hood, Kip Fonsh and Phoebe Hazzard, who was using remote participation via computer.
Amherst NAACP President Kathleen Anderson: "Mediation" or federal lawsuit
A few minutes before that NAACP local President Kathleen Anderson clearly told the committee that it was either "mediation" or a lawsuit would be filed in federal court. Former Regional School Committee member Amilcar Shabazz also passionately urged his former colleagues to enter into mediation to avoid just such a lawsuit.
RSC member Vira Douangmany Cage pointed out the school's attorney Giny Tate makes $225 per hour and her staunch advice about the Consent Decree being a simple "contract" that was null and void could lead to a lawsuit that would only serve to give her many more hours of lucrative work.
Kathleen Anderson reads statement of Mary Lou Conca in support of spending $5,000 on mediation. Investigation of her complaints against Schools cost $15,000
But Katherine Appy asked why would the committee listen to the NAACP attorney (who claimed it was a Consent Decree still in force) and not their own? So why waste taxpayer money on a Mediator when it's clearly not required?
When all was said and done the Regional School Committee voted 9-0 to go into "discussion" with the NAACP with a facilitator rather than entering into formal mediation.
The ball is now squarely in the NAACP's court.
Bulletin board on wall just outside RSC meeting