Board chastises New members

| 30 Sep 2011 | 09:40

    Board sends letter to council asking they disregard unauthorized meeting Sparta — The Board of Education took a firm stand Friday in regard to two new members’ unauthorized meeting with the Mayor and Deputy Mayor to discuss matters concerning the defeated school budget. A letter sent from the board to the council states the board members’ actions violated their code of ethics and asks the council to disregard any information gleaned or decisions made at the meeting. The meeting, which was between newly sworn-in board members Frank Favichia and Richard Bladek, Mayor Scott Seelagy, Deputy Mayor Jerry Murphy, and former board member Richard Sullivan, took place immediately after the board’s reorganization meeting on Monday, May 9 at Sullivan’s office. During the meeting, Board President Keith Smith showed up uninvited. All meeting participants have claimed the meeting was purely informational and no specific numbers were discussed or decisions made. However, board policy dictates that board members are not authorized to meet with anyone to discuss official board business without the knowledge and consent of the full board. Therefore, board attorney Rod Hara drafted a letter to Seelagy and Murphy, which was approved by a majority vote of the board at Friday’s meeting, which said, “Not only were the board members’ participation [in the meeting] not authorized by the Sparta Township Board of Education, but their conduct violated the Code of Ethics for School Board Members and the School Ethics Law ... It is the position of the Sparta Township Board of Education that the two board members’ involvement in the meeting with the two of you as representatives of the municipality has tainted the budgetary review process and leaves the municipality’s decision on the 2011-2012 budget vulnerable to a legal challenge.” Favichia and Bladek objected to some of the language in the letter and voted against accepting it. Both maintain the meeting involved only discussions regarding steps in the budget process and that no numbers were agreed upon and no deals were made. During public participation at the meeting, Leslie Huhn said that Bladek and Favichia, who campaigned against the passage of the school budget, should recuse themselves from any further discussions on the budget. She said, “The appearance of impropriety is too great and has cast a pall over the proceedings.” Eva Johnson asked if the board supports the budget, since three new members campaigned against it. Smith affirmed that the board supports the budget, as proposed. Kevin Pollison said even if board members disagree, when a vote is taken it is the result of that vote that becomes the official position of the board and all must stand behind it. New BOE committees Committee chairs and members for the 2011-2012 board of education committees were announced on Friday. They are: Personnel - Scott Turner, chair, and Keith Smith and Frank Favichia, members Curriculum - Ilse Wolfe, chair, and Richard Bladek and Maureen Myre, members Operations - Dorothy LaBeau, chair, and Kevin Pollison and Doug McKernan, members