Groveport Madison closed session questioned

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A prolonged closed session by the Groveport Madison Board of Education at its Nov. 14 meeting prompted questions from the three board members-elect who won seats on the board at the Nov. 6 election.

The board went into the closed session to discuss the appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion, or compensation of an employee and to discuss pending contract negotiations.

Newly elected board members Steven Slyh, Nathan Slonaker, and Mary Tedrow all noted that it would have been helpful for them to know what was going on in the  closed session so they would be fully informed when they take their places on the board.

In a letter to the board, Slyh said he understood the board’s business had to continue after the election, but felt the transition to the new board would be smoother if the new members were included in the closed session.

"I find it troublesome that key positions will be voted on in the coming weeks with little to no input from the incoming board of education," wrote Slyh. "When I think of the position of treasurer, I see a position that will report directly to the board.  With this said, why would three members of a lame duck board with only five or six weeks left in office hire a person that should be interviewed and hired by the new board of education?"  

While he acknowledged that the current board could legally exclude the new members from the closed session, he stated he found "it troublesome that in January we will have a new majority of board members but those new members will not be allowed to attend executive sessions before taking office or be asked opinions prior to any crucial vote."

"Like it or not," continued Slyh, "the community has spoken and a new majority will be in place soon. Does it serve our students, staff and community well to ignore the transition of power for the next five to six weeks?"

In an interview Nov. 14, board member-elect Nathan Slonaker stated, "It wouldn’t hurt for us to be there (in the closed session). But they’re the elected board carrying out their term. There’s no animosity between them and the newly elected board members as far as I know."

Board member-elect Mary Tedrow, in a Nov. 14 interview, added, "It would’ve been a courtesy to be included (in the closed session) so we could gather information and to see what’s involved. We’d be observers and we could see how the negotiations were handled."

Current board member Dr. Naomi Sealey, speaking after the Nov. 14 meeting, stated it would not have been proper protocol to include the newly elected board members in the closed session discussions. She noted that when she and board member John Kershner were newly elected board members, they, too, were not invited into closed sessions by the existing board at that time.

Plus she added, the newly elected board members have not been sworn in and additionally have no background to provide input on the issues being discussed in closed session.

"We’ve (the current board) been working tirelessly for six months on issues they (new board members) haven’t been privy to. There’s no reason to have them in the session because they would have no input," said Sealey.

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