Meeting Turns Into Standoff

Chairwoman Tries to Eject Board Member

RIDGEWAY – The Dec. 16 meeting of the Fairfield County School Board, held at Geiger Elementary School, degenerated into an ugly standoff between Board Chairwoman Beth Reid and Board Member Annie McDaniel, with an unsuccessful attempt by Reid to have McDaniel removed from the meeting by a Fairfield County Sheriff’s deputy. The showdown ended anticlimactically after Reid asked for and received a motion to adjourn and the meeting was disbanded, albeit somewhat prematurely, with four affirmative votes.

The tension between the two had been escalating throughout the meeting, Reid admitted later. During the financial report, when McDaniel complained about not receiving information from Green in a format that she had asked for, Reid ruled McDaniel out of order.

McDaniel said during the discussion that she was seeking “a printout from the computer system” detailing how Green had used his discretionary fund.

“We did provide you that information,” Green told McDaniel. “Apparently, you did not approve of the format in which it was provided. Our legal counsel did contact you and informed you that it was in accordance with our FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requirements. If the Board wants to instruct me to do otherwise, I’ll leave that decision to the Board.”

“What I asked you for was the information from the computer system,” McDaniel responded. “What you gave was an Excel spreadsheet. Now, does that mean I do not trust you? I’m not going to get into that.”

McDaniel said that the Board should not even bee allocating a discretionary fund for Green, “just to say you can do whatever you want to do with it, and we ask you what you spend the money on you won’t give us information.”

Reid  reiterated that the information had indeed been provided and attempted to move on from finance to the human resources report.

“You know, Madam Chair,” McDaniel said, “you sit here and you want to try to rush us through because you already discussed this and decided everything.”

Reid again tried to move the agenda forward, but McDaniel plowed ahead.

“We as Board members ask you questions so we can understand,” McDaniel continued, but Reid brought down the gavel and ruled McDaniel out of order.

“No, I’m not out of order,” McDaniel said.

“It is out of order,” Reid said, “and if I call you out of order again I will ask you to be removed.”

“Oh, no ma’am,” McDaniel said. “You won’t ask for nobody to be removed from the Board meeting.”

“Yes, I will,” Reid warned.

“This is for the Board and I’m representing just as much as anybody else up here.”

At last, the Board took up approval of the resignation of a certified employee. With a motion and a second on the floor, Reid called for the vote. But McDaniel asked Reid to call for questions.

Reid, however, said she was not calling for questions on a personnel matter. McDaniel stressed that her question was an open-session question and asked, “Have we found someone to replace this person?”

“The answer is yes,” Reid said, but as she again called for the vote McDaniel interrupted again.

“I want the record to reflect I don’t know what your problem is tonight or who you’re trying to impress,” McDaniel began, but Reid hammered the gavel again.

“Please remove Ms. McDaniel,” Reid called to the deputy at the back of the gymnasium. “I’ve had enough. We’ve been out of order, out of order, out of order.”

McDaniel resisted, telling Reid that she did not have the authority to have her removed.

The “yes I can/no you can’t” face-off continued even after the deputy approached and stood waiting behind McDaniel.

Only when Reid called for a motion to adjourn did the standoff end.

Reid said Friday that she was seeking a legal opinion from the District’s attorneys on if, and how, a Board member may be removed from a meeting. Roberts Rules of Order, under which the Board operates, requires a vote by the Board before one of its members may be ejected, but whether that is a two-thirds vote or a simple majority is in question. Neither option was used in Reid’s attempt to remove McDaniel.

Emails to McDaniel seeking comment for this story were not returned at press time.

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