Source: Sherman Publications

Rules must apply to everyone

May 21, 2014

Clarkston Board of Education is working hard to improve this school district. Their effort is complicated by the lawlessness of one of their members.

Trustee Steve Hyer, as well as others, responded to fellow trustees' questioning of the superintendent and administration regarding spending and policy at a recent meeting by attacking the questioners' qualifications and experience. And the technologically savvy board members shared their opinions on Twitter during the meeting ("Trustees tweet during meeting," April 30).

Posted under hashtag labels such as "stoptalking," "budgetdiscussiongone wrong," "ridiculousness," "outofcontrol," and "trusttheadministration," the tweets at the April 28 meeting prompted the board to seek a legal opinion from their attorney, George Butler, on whether they violated the Open Meetings Act.

His view "it is recommended that board members refrain from communicating about board business and policy via social media websites at all times" because "communication via social media during and in between board meetings can easily violate the OMA."

But Mr. Hyer ignored the recommendation, tweeting more than a dozen times during the May 19 school board meeting.

This is not the first time the trustee held himself above the law. Mr. Butler gave a presentation to the school board in 2012 on its communication policy, which included not appearing in the media without making clear opinions are individual, not the school board's. Days later, however, Hyer was featured in an interview for a local news radio station, without disclaimer.

This sets a bad example, especially for young people looking up to Mr. Hyer on the school board and for his work with Team RUSH. He should not be teaching his Twitter followers, who are among the brightest and most active in the community, it's OK to ignore rules when inconvenient, and deride colleagues as long as they deserve it.

An editorial by Phil Custodio