Editorial Opinion Version:
The current GCISD Board of Trustees majority are nothing more than a gang of malicious ignorant bullies. The limitation of comments at the August 2022 regular meeting was not transparent, contrary to board policy, in violation of Robert’s Rules of Order and a stellar example of how the majority thinks of ALL minority constituencies in GCISD. The Board minority (and indeed the community at large) are owed an apology by Casey Ford, Shannon Braun, Kathy Spradley, and Tammy Nakamura for their flagrant abuse of process and procedure. There is no point in a re-vote, but there is also no point in gratuitous bullying of the minority just because they believe (incorrectly) that they can.
Those who now want to understand why we say this, please slog on!
Critical Thinkers Version:
Once again we need to thank Trustees Shannon Braun and Tammy Nakamura for urging us “Back to Basics.” In that light, we ask the following question:
Today, we will address reading, punctuation, comprehension, and a sprinkle of Social and Emotional Learning in the context of the August 22, 2022 Board of Trustees meeting. We might even engage in some critical thinking of the kind we expect of members of the public (aka: students) who complete a public high school education in GCISD.
No, we are not going to talk about the law or the policies which were (yes, they were) properly enacted by a majority of the board. Nor will we address the extent to which those policies followed or went beyond the law. Many, many others are considering those questions. This will only be about the basics of reading, punctuation, and acting upon comprehension of the material. #commasmatter
The material in this case is Board Policy BE Local. Specifically, we will be reading the Rules of Order and Discussions & Limitation sections of this policy.
The board operates under Robert’s Rules of Order, (comma!) EXCEPT as otherwise provided in Board procedural rules (missing Oxford comma!) or by law. This sentence identifies three separate bodies of material – Robert’s Rules, Board procedural rules or (should be more correctly “, or”) law. Law is obviously not a procedure; Robert’s Rules are plainly not law; so the sentence is logically clear if not perfectly punctuated.
Robert’s Rules is NOT a Board procedural rule, it is the Rules of Order – the parliamentary procedures – under which the board conducts business. Board procedures are the manner in which the board carries out its business which may, or may not, modify Robert’s Rules. Law supersedes both Board procedural rules and Robert’s Rules. Those who enjoy English will recognize order, conditionals, and the separating effect of commas. Lawyers will readily acknowledge that lawsuits are frequently won or lost over the presence or absence of a comma. #commasmatter
An example of a procedural rule which modifies Robert’s Rules is the final sentence of Policy BE Local which supersedes Robert’s Rules by stating “…the Board President shall not interfere with debate as long as members wish to address themselves to an item under consideration.” Robert’s Rules are modified by this final sentence of Policy BE Local with a procedural rule essentially providing for unlimited debate. Board President Casey Ford has routinely ignored this last sentence of Policy BE Local.
Policy BE Local provides that a procedural rule – not Robert’s Rules – may be suspended by a majority vote. If so suspended then the default is Robert’s Rules if the motion is seconded and passes. e.g. “I move that we suspend the procedural rule in the last sentence of Policy BE Local related to unlimited debate [for this item] [for the duration of the meeting].”
Is this the end? No. In order to then limit the discussion beyond two turns of 10 minutes for each member, a second motion to modify Robert’s Rules would be required. e.g. “I move that each member may speak only once and that debate be limited to three minutes [for this item] [for the duration of the meeting].” This is known in Robert’s Rules as a “Motion to Limit” and requires a 2/3 majority vote to pass because it is limiting the rights of individual members. A 2/3 majority on a board of 7 is 5 because there is no such thing as a fractional person.
None of this is opinion. This is all documented in Robert’s Rules, Board policy, and law. You can research Motion to Limit, when 2/3 votes are required, why 2/3 votes are required, and the intent of Robert’s Rules with regard to transparency for yourselves.
With regard to the comma-delimited question in the graphic, we submit that commas are not needed. The Board majority are behaving like “malicious ignorant bullies.” Behaving just like a gang executing a beat down, one of the trustees reportedly remarked to another on the evening something to the effect of “what does it matter, this is going to happen anyway.” Sit back and take your lumps because here comes the pain whether you like it or not. That is malicious. Their parliamentary antics were ignorant. They are bullies – malicious ignorant bullies.
The four majority board members engaged in a conspiracy to deprive the minority of their rights and responsibilities as fiduciaries of the district. Four? But wait, Tammy did not make or second the motion so why four? Here we need to note that each time Shannon and Kathy did their little routines on August 22, the limit was 1 minute with the exception of the first time which was three minutes. Staff was warned in advance that a clock would be needed. On the video you can see Casey ignore Becky St. John’s raised hand and recognize Shannon. He then calls for a second and looks to Kathy Spradley as he is doing so. Tammy then delivered her previously prepared and rehearsed 2 minute and 58 second statement. This was deliberately planned, coordinated, and executed theater by the majority – no coincidence here!
Casey Ford’s restrictions on debate are unique in the history of GCISD – and contrary to Board procedural rules as established in Policy BE Local. Clearly, the statewide adoption of nearly identical BE Local policies in the various school boards is intended to promote clarity, transparency, and understanding. Clearly, Casey Ford and the new board majority want to prevent all three.
Malicious ignorant bullies pretty well sums it up – no commas needed. They owe the board minority, and the community, an apology for their gang-like behavior. Let’s see if Casey Ford is man enough to admit a mistake and put right a wrong up front on this month’s agenda. Let’s see if Casey has the social and emotional learning – the integrity – to act like we expect children who are caught bullying to act.
A final note to malicious ignorant bullies who might now decide that it is time to blow up Policy BE Local – your Rules of Order are Robert’s Rules of Order. Anything that affects the rights of the individual to express their views requires a 2/3 majority vote. The Texas Open Meetings Act exists to ensure transparency. Multiple actions of this board so far have demonstrated deliberate attempts to frustrate transparency by ignoring 2/3 vote requirements.
It is also interesting to note that the majority seems to think that if any more than 3 minutes of thought in aggregate are given to their proposals the public might start to question their motives. If their ideas are so brilliant, why not let the minority be exposed for their supposed lack of brilliance? Better yet, why not just follow your own Rules of Order as adopted by GCISD and districts statewide in Policy BE Local?