7 of 9 members Regional School Committee (2 absent)
After a two hour meeting replete with charges and counter-charges bordering on sniping the Amherst Regional School Committee voted (4 yes, 2 no, 1 abstained) to send a letter to the Attorney General explaining the violation of member Katherine Appy as not really a violation of the Open Meeting Law.
That only took 40 minutes, although scheduled on the agenda for 30 minutes.
Katherine Appy reads her statement later approved by Committee to send to AG
The only other item on the agenda, a discussion of the mediation with NAACP that stimulated the Open Meeting Law complaint in item #1 went on for 80 minutes, although also scheduled on the agenda for only a half hour.
The NAACP won a "Consent Agreement" in 1993 over the discipline disparity in the schools between students of color and white students. A Consent Decree is kind of like the Armistice that ended the fighting in Korean in 1953.
A cessation of hostilities, but not an official close-the-book "peace settlement."
The NAACP now thinks the Schools have violated the Consent Agreement. The Schools attorney thinks not. When such an impasse exists the Agreement calls for "mediation."
RSC Chair Trevor Babtiste and Vice Chair Kathleen Traphagen had already met with the NAACP and now wanted permission of the full board to go into "mediation."
25 people turned out (including 3 former RSC members) to watch the fireworks
The full board was not happy they did not previously know about such a meeting or any previous discussions, with Ms. Appy squarely thinking Chair Baptiste had overstepped his authority. Hence the email she sent to the entire RSC, which member Vira Douangmany Cage interpreted as a violation of Open Meeting Law.
Former RSC member Amilcar Shabazz (left) Lawrence O'Brien (top right) Principal Mark Jackson (top left)
After adding a couple of amendments the full Committee voted 5-2 (Trevor Baptiste and Vira Douangmany Cage voting no) to have three members of the Regional School Committee meet informally with the NAACP over the next week and report back to the full RSC at their 8/10 meeting as to whether the impass gets bumped up to an official "mediation."
Which of course beats an all out war.
Vince O'Connor told the board to "check with your attorney" because he's sure the Consent Decree requires "mediation" rather than juat informal talks