January 31, 2013WAKEFIELD — Wakefield School Board Chair Judy Nason announced at the board's Jan. 18 meeting that she would not be running for re-election in March when her term as school board member expires.
Unfortunately this news came on the heels of a long meeting that ended with 20 minutes of infighting, which she said is exactly why she is no longer interested in the position.
"Who wants to come here every Wednesday night and fight?" she asked her fellow board members, whom she said are all (including herself) guilty of fighting among themselves.
"No one wants to do that," she answered herself before adding that she wasn't going to run again. She explained that the bickering between board members that "has been going on all year" is far from her original intention for joining the board, which was to "do what's right for the kids of Wakefield and try to make this a better place for them to come to school at."
"I'll be glad when March comes," she said.
The latest of the board's strifes came in the form of an official complaint made by board member Pricilla Colbath regarding fellow board member Steve Brown.
Regarding Brown's conduct at a recent Budget Committee hearing where he stated his own personal opinions on a policy rather than the opinion of the board, Colbath read from her written complaint.
"I am officially making a request to the board for censure against fellow board member Steve Brown. I believe Steve Brown has violated our ethics policy, his oath of office and our longstanding accepted practice of the board standing as one. Steve Brown went rogue expressing his personal opinion while sitting as a board member in a recorded public forum while ignoring the school board vote to reaffirm policy at our last meeting.
"Discussing students that we are charged to protect, even while not naming them, is easy to figure out who they are in such a small community and is not acceptable behavior and cannot be tolerated… I ask that the board join me in a vote of censure against Steve Brown."
Colbath then made a motion to publicly censure Steve Brown for his conduct at the school board hearing held on Jan. 11, 2013.
In his defense Brown said that he did not know the board had voted in affirmation of the policy before sharing his opinion because he had stepped out while that had occurred.
He also said that he was not in the wrong by stating his personal opinion at the meeting.
The crux of the argument was whether or not a board member represents himself as a member of the public or the opinion of the board as a whole when attending another committee's meeting.
Though Brown asked a question and stated his opinion as a member of the public, he answered other questions as a member of the school board.
Nason and Colbath are of the opinion that they were in attendance at the budget hearing to represent the board as a whole while Brown maintained he did no wrong in stated his personal opinions.
"You're going to try to deny me my rights?" he asked before saying that he would be seeking legal representation if that was the case.
"You might want to think about bumping up your legal line," he warned. "We are not school board members at a Budget Committee meeting."
The board briefly discussed the definition of a school board censure and what they felt constitutes cause for a censure.
Though Nason agreed she had been taken aback when Brown made his comments at the budget hearing because "we had voted on that as a board and we've always tried to stick together," she was equally upset at the present state of the board.
"I find it's kind of sad that we're at a point where we feel that we need to censure school board members," said Nason, who was disappointed that the board couldn't work together and try to do what's best for the kids and the school district of Wakefield.
"We end up spending more time on this board complaining about other board members and arguing about other board members, and discussing what someone should or shouldn't have done, and I think that maybe we need to get back to the business of school board."
Regarding the motion to censure Brown the vote was called, there was one vote in favor and one abstention. Neither Nason nor Brown said anything.
This meeting can be viewed in its entirety at www.governmentoversite.com.