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Why Didn’t the New Dover School Board Repeal the ID Policy?

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Ed Brayton in characteristic fashion dodges the real question. The new Dover school board was elected partly on a campaign promise to repeal the ID policy. Why didn’t they? Over to you, Ed.

Update: Well, Ed responded fairly quick saying they DID repeal it on January 4th. But this was *after* the judge ordered it. Ed, as usual, deliberately or stupidly misses the point. The question is why didn’t the board repeal it on December 5th *before* Jones ruled on it. Back to you, Ed.

Update 2: Ed responded again this time his lame excuse is the board didn’t have time to discuss rescinding the ID policy at the first meeting. This is lame for 2 reasons. First of all they campaigned on the issue of rescinding the ID policy. It had already been discussed and they made a promise to the voters they would rescind it. What were they going to discuss – whether or not to keep their promise? Second, the vote to rescind in the next meeting was 8-0. There was nothing to discuss in either meeting. They had all made a promise and there was no dissent. So once again, why didn’t they keep their campaign promise and take 10 seconds to make a motion and get unanimous consent? Keep trying Ed. When you get to the point where you agree with Manzari and Cooper your lameness will be cured.


Apparently it is common practice in Pennsylvania for school board agendas to be published in advance. For instance, the Allentown School Board's website says:

"Each board meeting follows a set agenda that is available prior to the start of each meeting. The agenda may be picked up at the table on the right as you enter the boardroom. It is also available online on the district's Web site."

The Saucon Valley School Board's website says:

"The School Board Agenda will be available for viewing on the Monday preceding the scheduled board meeting date."

Neither says whether or not this is required by law, but it's also been the practice of the Dover School Board to publish their agenda in advance.

And, in my view, this is a sign of good government.

You folks seem to be arguing that the new board should've 1) ignored the advice of their legal counsel and 2) ignored the standard practice (perhaps required by law) of publishing agenda items in advance.

You're still proposing without any evidence an agenda law exists while I actually provided you with the Pennsylvania Open Meeting Act that includes no such law. You are still ignoring the fact that public discussion of whether to rescind or not was accomplished at the ballot box. You are saying that standard practice excludes ad hoc agenda items when standard practice is instead just posting known agenda items in advance of the meeting when possible and practical. -ds dhogaza

Davescot: "I can’t find any prohibition in the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act regarding ad hoc agenda items. In my experience these are often added at the beginning of meetings to cover things where timeliness is a concern."

However, the beginning of this particular meeting would have been before the installation of the board and the election of the President, VP, and Treasurer.

And again, based on legal counsel advice, timeliness was NOT a concern. Community input was, so it was put on the January meeting agenda.

Election of officers has no bearing on what may or may not be motioned following said election. Your mention of it is pointless. Fulfilling a campaign promise at the first opportunity is always timely. As to whether legal counsel was correct is a matter of speculation but let's say he was right and it wouldn't have changed anything. In that case there was no reason not to rescind the ID policy on the spot and thus do what the voters had elected them to do. Why did they wait? One possible answer is they didn't want to take a chance that counsel was wrong about it not making any difference. Ask yourself what the plaintiffs wanted - voluntary quashing of ID or a precedent setting court order. -ds blogista

DonaldM said:
"Also, it appears a motion to recind the policy was made but not seconded at that December meeting."

This is incorrect. Read the minutes.

The question of rescinding the policy and the possibility of "dropping the case" was brought up by a citizen attending the meeting, a Mr. Napierskie.

In response to that, the new board president Ms. Reinking noted that legal counsel advised that the trial was over, and that changing the policy would have no effect on the ruling.

Legal counsel's advice is important, especially to a board that was barely 10 minutes old at that point. Remember, it was the previous board's deliberate rejection of legal counsel's advise that got them into the lawsuit in the first place.

DaveScot said: "The minutes don’t say why the board didn’t rescind the policy before the court ordered it rescinded."

Ms. Reinking stated that the board wanted community input and the attendance of staff for open discussion before any changes to the policy would be made.

Dave, I undertand that you don't agree with the "why", but that's the "why". The minutes do very clearly say it.

Ms. Reinking stated that the board wanted community input and the attendance of staff for open discussion before any changes to the policy would be made. Reinking stated no such thing. The minutes stated that Reinking (NOT the board) promised that the community and staff would be included in any decision. The board was elected on a promise to rescind ID. Staff were already on record as being against it. This had already been discussed to death and the voters had spoken. The vote the next month was 8-0 and there was no discussion. There was no discussion because they were obeying the order of a federal judge. The question remains - why didn't they fulfill their campaign promise at the first opportunity? If law prohibited it then that's the end of it. Otherwise the question remains unanswered. -ds blogista

Under open meetings laws in most states, school boards can only consider items placed on the agenda IN ADVANCE. The old board decided not to put the ID policy on the December agenda. Yes, the new board was sworn in during the December meeting but could only consider items already on the agenda. They voted to put the ID policy on the agenda for the January meeting. THIS IS ALL THEY COULD DO LEGALLY.

In essence you folks are asking "why didn't the newly sworn in board break the law?". I don't think that question is all that hard to answer.

Well, at least this is an attempt at an answer. I can't find any prohibition in the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act regarding ad hoc agenda items. In my experience these are often added at the beginning of meetings to cover things where timeliness is a concern. Not everything that needs action can be anticipated a month in advance. Robert's Rules of Order certainly don't prohibit so I'm afraid the onus is on you to show me the Pennsylvania statute that prohibits it. Otherwise your claim is baseless. -ds dhogaza

More important than anything mentioned before is what the minutes from that meeting say:
That since the trial was already over (by 12-5-05), reversing the board's policy would not have prevented a decision from being handed down, and it was too late to rescind the board's earlier actions, which had already infringed the rights of the plantiffs, etc.

It was made clear in section 2, bullet 3, of the minutes.

The minutes don't say why the board didn't rescind the policy before the court ordered it rescinded. It would have been a simple matter to make a motion to rescind as they did a few weeks later. The question is still unanswered: Why did they wait for a judge to order them to rescind a policy they'd promised to rescind in their campaign? They had the opportunity yet they didn't take it. Why? -ds

The question has broader implications than you mention, Dave. If the newly elected board had recinded the policy at their December meeting, prior to the Judges ruling, they would have made the Judges ruling unnecssary. Furthermore, it may have saved the school board some money by doing so. It makes you wonder what behind door conversations might have taken place. It appears that they wanted Jones to rule...but why? Also, it appears a motion to recind the policy was made but not seconded at that December meeting. Yet, this was the very issue that got them all elected in the first place. Very curious indeed!!! DonaldM

They did. At the very first meeting at which the new board was all present.

The new board being "all present" is irrelevant which you'd know if you'd ever been on a BoD. They had a quorum on December 5th (which means the board can conduct business) and a super-majority of it were new members who'd campaigned on a promise to repeal the ID policy. They explicitely decided to table the issue until Jones reached a decision. Care to stick your foot in your mouth any farther today or will this be enough for one day? -ds


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