In this regard, the assumption of the leadership of the Southbridge School Committee by Lauren McLoughlin could not possibly be any less auspicious.
It was characterized in its hallmark moment by what would be generously characterized as ignorance, but more likely as outright deceit.
Most disturbing was the regrettable involvement in this exercise by as distinguished an officer of the court as Demetrios Moschos of the firm Mirick O’Connell. I can only wonder if he will have the integrity to admit his error and thus require those responsible to hit the reset button.
Specifically I am addressing the elevation of Lauren McLoughlin to the position of Chairman of the Southbridge School Committee and the manner in which it was done.
Readers of the O’Zone will know that I have been addressing the issue of the selection of a new chairman since the night that Mrs. Woodruff resigned from the Committee as well as from the chairmanship.
I know that members of the School Committee were aware of the comments made in that and other articles. I have no doubt that such awareness led to the comments by the acting chairman introducing the remarks by Attorney Moschos.
To refresh the memories of those who watched the meeting and for those who have not seen it, here is the relevant portion:
The operative portion of Attorney Moschos’ statement is as follows:
The policies of the school committee discussing this subject are general in nature. So there is no specific guidance that has been provided by those policies. And under the policy if there is no specific guidance on a particular matter, parliamentary matter, that you go to Robert’s Rules.
Robert’s Rules state that the office of chair, unless specifically provided for under the policies of the committee, is handled through the assumption of the office by the vice-chair, and that the vice-chair automatically becomes chair upon the vacancy becoming effective which has been accomplished in Southbridge because the resignation of the chair was accepted, was filed with the City Clerk, Town Clerk,.
Therefore there is no election for the office of chair because we had a vice-chair and so the vice-chair assumed that office.
The key words are, “there is no specific guidance that has been provided by those policies. And under the policy if there is no specific guidance on a particular matter, parliamentary matter, … you go to Robert’s Rules.”
However, Policy BDA of the Southbridge School Committee (found here on page 10) states:
SCHOOL COMMITTEE ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING
The School Committee, at its first regular meeting following the town's annual elections, will elect from its membership a chairman, a vice-chairman, and a secretary all of whom will hold their offices for a term of one year, or until a successor is elected.
A majority of the members will constitute a quorum. The election will proceed as follows:
1. Nominations for the office of chairman will be made from the floor. The chairman will be elected by a majority roll-call vote of the members present and voting. If no nominee receives a majority vote, the election will be declared null and void and nominations will be reopened.
2. Upon election, the new chairman will preside, calling for the election of a vice-chairman, secretary and recording secretary, in order. The procedure used for their election will be the same as that for electing the chairman.
Any vacancy among the officers occurring between organizational meetings will be filled by a member elected by the School Committee. The election will be conducted as described above. [emphasis added]
ADOPTED: OCTOBER, 2007
I would welcome anyone who can explain to me how the above highlighted portion of the School Committee Policy Manual provides, in Attorney Moschos’ words, “no specific guidance” as to filling a vacancy in the office of chairman. If it is specific, which I am convinced that it is, then it supersedes Robert’s Rules which then become irrelevant.
If the policy provided no specific guidance, why was this the procedure (i.e. an election) that was followed when Mary Ellen Prencipe was elected to be chairman, having been vice chair, following the resignation of Lisa Tarantino?
I will leave the matter there. I will await, fruitlessly I am certain, a redress of this wrong. I say fruitlessly, because we have all too often witnessed this kind of violation of process by the previous leadership of the town council with their total indifference to such criticism. I have no reason to believe that the prevailing hubris of the current leadership of the School Committee is any less.
With that having been said, here follows the whole of the October 22 School Committee Meeting. Other issues with this meeting have already been addressed in an earlier article.