After meeting behind closed doors for several hours Monday, Thursday’s closed-door session of the Alvord school board didn’t last nearly as long.
And it produced the same amount of action: none.
About 30 minutes in private was all it took Thursday for the board to come out and take quick, unanimous action on two agenda items – considering a contract for a head football coach, and giving notice of proposed non-renewal of the athletic director’s contract.
Both items were tabled.
There were some fireworks early in Thursday’s meeting when Linda Goodwin attempted to speak in the open forum portion of the meeting and was asked if she was going to talk about a personnel matter.
Matthew Dunn, who led a petition drive to seek the removal of head football coach and athletic director Curtis Enis, jumped to her defense.
“You can’t discriminate between positive or negative feedback in open forum, Larry,” said Matthew Dunn. “It’s a TEA rule.”
Goodwin then presented board president Larry Nivens with a document.
“Are you going to address personnel, I guess, is my question,” Nivens said.
“I’m going to address the decision of the board on that,” she said. “Not whether I’m for or against, but how you have reacted – that’s what I’m addressing.”
“If it’s a complaint against personnel, you can’t do it in public,” Nivens said.
“I’m not complaining against personnel – I’m complaining against the board,” she answered.
Nivens cited school board policy that says complaints against personnel cannot be heard in open session unless the employee agrees to it. Goodwin said she felt her right to speak was being taken away.
Nivens moved on.
“Did anyone else sign up for open forum?” he asked.
“There’s obviously no point in signing up if we can’t talk,” Dunn said. “Larry, you’re breaking the rules. One of the board members needs to say something.”
The meeting moved on and later, when they went into executive session, Goodwin spoke to the board behind closed doors.
Despite the dust-up, a little school district business got done. The board heard reports on attendance and activities at the elementary, middle school and high school campuses including positive reports on state testing that were released last week.
They voted to maintain membership in the Bluebonnet Special Education Co-op for students with visual impairments, even though Alvord ISD currently has no students who need the service.
The board also paid bills and named trustees Jeannette Ward, Kevin Wood and Jim Looney to the scholarship selection committee to review local scholarship applications for the 2014 graduating class.
They also called a meeting for Wednesday, May 14, to canvass the votes from the May 10 school board election. The time of that meeting will be determined.
Ward holds ‘seminar’ on board’s role
Under the “board reports” section on Thursday’s agenda, board member Jeannette Ward conducted a brief seminar on the role of the school board in evaluating the athletic department.
“Due to some of the recent actions and accusations by some members of the community, I’ve come to the conclusion that a training session may help some people understand the role and the authority of the board,” she said, introducing the presentation, which she had cleared in advance with Nivens and Superintendent Bill Branum. “I think it might help clarify some misconceptions.”
Ward talked about the dual roles of board members, using visual aids including photos, track medals and an audio recording of a football pep rally. She said as a parent and a business person she evaluated the athletic program based on her children’s experiences and what she observed.
Then she brought out a huge school board policy manual.
“As a board member, I evaluate the athletic department in a different way,” she said. “I pull this book out, and I look, and I look, and I look – and unfortunately, there’s nothing in there that tells me I have the authority to evaluate the athletic program as a board member.
“The sole responsibility of evaluating school employees belongs to the administration and the superintendent,” she said.
She concluded by offering to make handouts of the policies for anyone who wished to have them.