During a regularly scheduled school board meeting on Nov. 13, the Granbury ISD School Board adopted changes to several local board policies in a 5-2 vote with Trustee Melanie Graft and Trustee Karen Lowery opposing.
The agenda item voted on focused on several local board policies as well as changes to the board’s standard operating procedures.
Public comments were made regarding this item by Kerri Rehmeyer and Faith Barnes before the item was voted on.
Rehmeyer called the agenda “skimpy” and noted it does not inform the public with the topics they are voting on. Rehmeyer added that Superintendent Jeremy Glenn is not being held accountable and does not want to increase transparency.
Barnes expressed that the behavior displayed in the board room is not setting a good example for the future, and public comments should not be used for political agendas. She also pointed out that as a former employee she swore in many of the board members including trustee Graft. She claimed that Graft has defamed her character online. She closed her comment by noting that any change that would protect the space of the board room is supported by parents and staff.
When the board got to this agenda item board president Barbra Herrington noted that several board members wanted the board to look at these polices and operating procedures again.
“I want to add in, that public comments at meetings will only be allowed for items on the agenda. A special meeting will be called at least quarterly to hear non-agenda item topics,” Trustee Courtney Gore said. “This is something during the strategic planning on the culture committee that I got a lot of feedback from the community members on, and this was one of the recommendations that the community members made… Also, I’d like to add in, that for any special called meeting for public comment on non-agenda items any member of the public who lives within the district will be given priority to speak. All district visitors will speak at the end of each public comment session. I want to get rid of the limited to one minute. I don’t believe that should have been in there. I think whether they’re a resident or non-resident they are allowed the same amount of time either way… and then the board president can set reasonable restrictions on the length of s epical called meeting to hear public comments on non-agenda items so depending on how many people sign up, the board president would be able to set reasonable limits there.”
Trustee Barbra Townsend then suggested some edits be made to reduce redundancy.
“I was wondering if this could be tabled till the next meeting so that the public could take a look at this because I don’t believe that it was put online for them to see it. Also, I’d like to know who was involved in crafting this. I was not included in this,” Graft said.
President Herrington then reiterated her previous statement noting several board members had asked to revisit their policies.
Gore then told Graft she made some suggestions, as this is something that the board does yearly.
Graft then asked when a meeting was held where they discussed these suggestions and Gore said she emailed her changes to President Herington.
“I was not included in that,” Graft said.
“In our board operating procedures, it says that we will review standard operating procedures annually before the reorganization of the board,” Townsend said.
“I’m just letting the public know that we were not all included in that,” Graft noted then asked if the board talked to an attorney before making these changes to which Dr. Glenn and President Herrington noted they did.
“We knew this was coming which is why I made my request to the board president,” Gore added.
“It did not come to every board member,” Lowery noted, and Graft agreed.
“I’d also like to know how this benefits the children, parents and taxpayers of Granbury,” Graft asked the board.
Graft then read page 199 from the board policy handbook which states that closed meetings may not be recorded by an individual trustee nor may a trustee record a closed session by using a personal recording device or cell phone.
Graft that a Penal Code was referenced but after speaking with an attorney, she was told that Penal Code doesn’t apply to the board.
President Herrington noted that not recording closed sessions is the law.
Graft then requested again for these changes to be made available to the public and Gore added that she has requested these changes be available online after they voted.
“So, you’re saying after we vote on it. So, the public has no input. That’s not very transparent,” Graft commented.
“This is for us as a board to operate. This isn’t about local policy this is about board operating procedures,” Gore said.
“This impedes board members from doing what is authorized in the Education Code Open Meetings Act Public Information Act and also infringes on constitutional rights,” Graft noted to which Gore disagreed.
Lowery also noted the changes showed a time change for people to sign up to speak for public comments from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lowery didn’t believe that was fair for people who are busy in the mornings, but Gore added people have three days to sign up to speak.
Gore then referred back to her motion regarding the changes and Graft and Lowery added that discussion was still being had while Trustee Billy Wimberly seconded the motion.
Graft and Lowery continued to attempt to be heard and Herrington moved forward with the vote on the changes resulting in a 5-2 vote.
These changes also include the creation of an online system for patrons to use as a method to sign up and speak at meetings.
“The goal of the board is to streamline the public comment portion of our meetings by providing stakeholders with clear and easy access policies,” GISD Director of Communications Ryan Cox said. “As technology becomes more advanced, Granbury ISD is following suit with other surrounding school districts who have taken similar steps to ensure meetings are conducted professionally and all stakeholders have a chance to be heard.”
To learn more about Granbury ISD’s School Board Procedure handbook visit granburyisd.org.