Source: Sherman Publications

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School board split after 4.5-hour meeting

by Phil Custodio

April 30, 2014

Trustee Steve Hyer checks his computer during a recent school board meeting. File photo
Communications was a focus of Monday's school board meeting.

Board Secretary Craig Hamilton introduced a motion near the end of an almost five-hour-long meeting, April 28, for the board president to direct Superintendent Dr. Rod Rock to provide information to board members as requested.

"I don't think I get information in a timely manner," said Hamilton.

Rosalie Lieblang, board president, agreed information is sometimes not provided when desired. Some of her requests for budget information have not been delivered satisfactorily.

"Sometimes I get the information and sometimes I don't," she said.

The superintendent said administration provides more than enough information to the school board, and Hamilton's motion and statements at the meeting, as well as recent comments in The Clarkston News, have been frustrating and insulting ("School board members focus on operations," March 26).

"People probably enjoy ticking me off. I find it offensive," Rock said. "It's not how I would treat people. If you want to, fine."

Trustee Steven Hyer said the motion should have been placed on the agenda for discussion prior to the meeting. He made a motion to table the discussion, but it failed, 4-3. Hyer, and trustees Cheryl McGinnis and Elizabeth Egan voted to table, while Lieblang, Hamilton, board Vice President Sue Boatman, and Treasurer Joan Patterson voted against.

Hamilton's motion failed, 4-3, with Boatman, Egan, Hyer, and McGinnis voting "no." A motion by Hyer to adjourn the meeting, then about 11 p.m., failed,4-3, with Boatman, Hamilton, Lieblang, and Patterson voting against, and discussion continued.

Patterson said more discussion on the board's strategic plan may be needed.

"There is a lot of disagreement on the table we need to keep working on it," she said. "We need to get on the same page."

They should consider standard question-and-answer templates on budget and other issues to clarify exactly what information is requested and when, she said.

Hyer, who also provided running commentary on Twitter during the meeting, said board members were micromanaging.

"We might as well appoint Rosalie superintendent," said the trustee, who posted dozens of tweets under hashtags such as "lackoftransparency," "outofcontrol," "trusttheadministration," "theyareexperts," and "budgetdiscussiongonewrong."

Egan, who posted about a dozen tweets during the meeting, said the board should make information requests collectively.

"Our authority resides in the entire board I don't think it's fair to the administration to have seven individuals asking for information," she said. "It chews up resources."

The superintendent said administration also spent time dealing with "misinformation" in The Clarkston News articles on the strategic plan, particularly those by Hamilton criticizing him.

"It would be wonderful if this worked both ways if there's a misunderstanding, not to have to read about it in the paper," Rock said. "It doesn't seem positive, school board members making negative comments about the superintendent."

For example, in the April 2 article "$1M surplus kicks off long-term school finance planning," Hamilton stated, "The limit on how much money can be spent before board approval is just over $20,000. It is shocking how many transactions are just below that amount, and who knows how many are broken up into multiple smaller transactions to avoid having to get board approval for purchases; essentially circumventing the board and board approval."

Rock said this does not happen.

"The information is not accurate," he said.

Patterson said she is concerned about the superintendent's interpretation of the comments.

"I'm afraid, going forward, more things will be perceived differently," the treasurer said.

McGinnis, who said the discussion shouldn't have happened the way it did, walked out of the meeting at 11:38 p.m., about 10 minutes before it adjourned.

"I'm done," she said.

Lieblang said she will create a new section in future agendas for information requests.

"If board members feel they're not getting information, we'll put it on the agenda and discuss it at the board meeting," she said.
Trustees tweet during meeting

During the Clarkston School Board meeting, April 28, trustees Steve Hyer, who has 263 followers, and Elizabeth Egan, who has 92 followers, provided a live feed on Twitter (captured at 6:12 a.m., April 29).

Steve Hyer @stevejhyer 14h

If you are coming to tonight's #ccsboe mtg, Pls bring a banana to eat during the mtg to support your Supt, @RodRock1 #eatabanana #itsathing

Steve Hyer @stevejhyer 10h

Not sure if I should phone a friend,ask the audience,or use 50/50 to figure out how I can push things along here. #budgetdiscussiongonewrong

Elizabeth Egan @lizzybirds 9h

Don't say "I don't care but..."#stoptalking

Steve Hyer @stevejhyer 9h

@kgkopec It's a discussion/Spanish Inquisition.Board Members trying to figure out how much PD costs. #trusttheadministration #theyareexperts


Steve Hyer @stevejhyer 9h

Why isn't this mtg on TV? Could it be Lieblang didn't want public to see this micromanagement? I'll ask later in the mtg. #BeTransparent

Elizabeth Egan @lizzybirds 9h

How many Education experts are sitting at this table? I see only one #rodrocks

Steve Hyer @stevejhyer 8h

@kmemmons @RodRock1 @SPRyan1972 @KimFletcher94 What about me? Do you have any magic potions that make people realize they are too detailed?

Elizabeth Egan @lizzybirds 8h

I think we should work with the ISD on the billboard idea.#Ridiculousness

Jason Siko @jasonsiko 8h

Reading tweets from a board meeting at the old stomping grounds. Makes me sad. Very sad.

Steve Hyer @stevejhyer 8h

@jasonsiko Me too. We miss you.

Steve Hyer @stevejhyer 8h

Next mtg - for those of you keeping score at home, you should tweet a picture of yourself supporting your Supt! #RemoteBoardMtgParticipation

Elizabeth Egan @lizzybirds 7h

This is ugly behavior #ccsboe

Steve Hyer @stevejhyer 7h

Hamilton, Boatman, Lieblang attacking Supt falsely claiming they aren't getting information they are requesting.Supt is providing everything

Steve Hyer @stevejhyer 7h

Hamilton moved to allow Lieblang to direct Supt to provide budget information she requests thru Jul 1. Supt is hurt and offended as am I

Steve Hyer @stevejhyer 7h

Why do we need a Supt if Lieblang is going to be voted to run the district? What experience does she have?

Steve Hyer @stevejhyer 7h

How could we possibly let this happen in Clarkston? How could we let these people ruin the district? #outofcontrol #rodrocks

retweeted by Cheryl McGinnis

Steve Hyer @stevejhyer 6h

Now we are engineering an information request process. It wasn't on the agenda. No one in audience, it's not on TV. #lackoftransparency