Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My line on the Academic Distress Commission initial meeting

I attended the nearly 3 hour meeting last night as noted in the story. I'll try and put the way I saw the proceedings into words that Lorain's parents can understand.
The first meeting's goals are outlined in the ORC whereas the commission has to take certain steps, such as being sworn in, review sunshine and ethics laws and adopt their bylaws. The Ohio Department of Education also put on several presentations regarding academic standings and procedures.
The commission was given time to review a bylaws "example" presented by the state and they amended the meeting notifications as noted in the story.
What was left out of the story were comments made by Mr. Ramos regarding two paragraphs in the bylaws covering public comment and the recording of the meetings. That has yet to be decided. I question why either the commission chair or Mr. Ramos would have an issue with public comment as formatted in the bylaws and the chair Bill Zelei was obviously "annoyed" that I requested to speak. He allowed the union rep and Mr. Tucker speak. It should also be noted that the children who attend Lorain's schools are the ones being helped by this commission and the commission answers to the Ohio Department of Education who answers to US. They cannot lose sight of that very important fact. We will be involved in this process, one way or another.
The commission's meetings and activities are public record just like boards of education activities are. All documents generated for the purpose of the commission are public record as well as the minutes of the meetings and the agendas.
The one problem with written agendas, minutes and other "documents" covered under FOIA is that they are devoid of character. Character that can only be seen by observing the members in action. One thing that will certainly not be covered in the minutes of yesterday's meeting was the disturbing "banter" between Mr. Ramos, Mr. Patterson and Mr. Zelei in deciding who would be vice-chair for the commission. It was decided between the commission members that since Mr. Zelei was selected by the state to be chair that the vice chair should be someone local and NEITHER Patterson or Ramos appeared to want the job. It was even joked that "we take a break so they could flip a coin". Mr. Patterson did eventually say he'd take the job but not until after the frankly embarrassing back and forth.
Hopefully it was because it was a new environment for the members that guided their laughter and "witty" comments, but we're not laughing, this stuff isn't funny and you have some immensely important work to do.

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