January 6, 2014 | To the Corbett School Board and Others,
An invitation was presented to our school board members at the December 2nd, 2013 ( Corrected ) school board meeting, to attend an open forum at the Grange, sponsored by NEMCCA (NE Multnomah County Community Association). This was to be a chance for community members to ask our individual board members questions about our schools. It was to be moderated and facilitated for the board. When the question was asked about the best date for the school board, Board Chairman Charlie O’Neil requested that the forum take place prior to the January board meeting. This has been the goal that has since been worked toward diligently.
The date was set for the Corbett Grange Hall on January 11, 2014 from 4 pm until 6 pm. Almost a month after this meeting, (Corrected) Chairman O’Neil contacted NEMCCA stating that this meeting would be a public meetings violation and so the school board could not attend. The Oregon School Board Association (OSBA) had been contacted by NEMCCA prior to this call and this meeting met all the presented OSBA guidelines. See the attached letter. ( Below )
I called Chairman O’Neil to work to make this meeting happen for our community, and explain that we met the OSBA criteria. Chairman O’Neil said he had received an e-mail from the OSBA a couple of weeks ago regarding public meeting requirements and assumed this meeting did not meet that criteria. I asked him why he had not passed this information on to those putting on the meeting so this could have been resolved, or even passed on to the other board members. He had no response. After going over the concerns, Chairman O’Neil said he would call the OSBA and get additional clarification.
On Friday January 3rd, 2014, ( Corrected ) I again spoke with Chairman O’Neil. He shared that he had spoken to Superintendent Trani regarding the legalities. I asked him what ORS would be violated by having the board attend this meeting and he did not have an answer. The chairman shared that the district prefers to hold their own meeting, at their own venue, and only after the board has voted on the Charter and upcoming bond issues. What Chairman O’Neil finally said was, the board did not want to attend a meeting at this time. I spoke with a couple of the board members, they had not been contacted by the Chair regarding attending this meeting. This was a decision the Chair made for the board.
Let this letter serve as both a public record of our failed attempt to allow the community a venue to receive answers to their questions and as something for our board members and community to discuss and consider as well. Corbett citizens deserve better than this.
Attachment to the above letter to the Corbett School District Board of Directors
January 2014 from Gary Purvine.
Following are the specific areas of concern that the Chairman assumed that our forum would not “meet”.
As you can see, we were prepared to meet all of these requirements.
* The School Board Chairman must call for a special board meeting at least 24 hours in
advance of the event and identify the purpose of the meeting. As the board is already
holding a Special Board meeting on January 8, 2014 meeting this obligation could have easily been
* No discussion or deliberation between the board members could occur if four or more
board members attended. The individual board members should all be well aware of the laws in
this regard. Whenever 4 or more board members are together it constitutes a quorum. Also, a
moderator was scheduled to help insure there was no discussion between board members and the
same question could not be asked of two board members. All questions would be in writing and
passed to the moderator and then the board member would have two minutes for their
response. These two minutes would be timed to keep things moving along. This would allow for as
many questions as possible being asked and no one board member dominating the meeting.
* The physical meeting place must be ADA accessible. The grange is ADA accessible. There is
also a sound system for those who are harder of hearing, or who prefer to sit towards the back.
* Minutes or notes need to be taken. The NEMCCA board members who were organizing this
event had a recorder available, and were willing to pass a copy to the school for their records, or
have them transcribed if preferred. In a phone conversation with Chairman O’Neil he stated that
he was concerned that a recorder might break, we assured him we would have two there.
THE BELOW WAS SENT TO THE OSBA ATTORNEYS 1/4/2014
Please help us in making a successful Public Meeting between our community and the
Corbett school board members.
NEMCCA (Northeast Multnomah County Community Association) has invited
the Corbett School Board to an open forum with the public to answer written questions
from the audience regarding public school matters. The meeting will be held on
Saturday, January 11, 2014 at the Corbett Grange Hall, which is an ADA approved
building and frequently holds public meeting events. The meeting will be recorded so
that minutes will be available for the Board and NEMCCA.
A moderator will conduct the Q&A session allowing a two-minute response from
individual board members. Each member will answer questions without input from other
members of the board, and no one will be allowed to correct or add to statements that
have been made. Each board member will be answering questions based on their
understanding of issues, or beliefs. There will be no discussion or deliberation by the
board during this meeting on any subject.
We proposed this plan to the school board approximately 30 days ago and at that time
four of them voiced that they would be able to participate, we have not heard from the
others. Now the board Chair has contacted us saying he believes the meeting to be a
violation, or potential violation, of public meeting laws.
I have spoken with Peggy Holstedt of the OSBA, requesting that she speak with an
attorney to make sure we are not in any violation, as that would never be our intent.
She said she spoke with one of you, and that we needed to make sure the bUilding was
ADA accessible (it is), that we have minutes taken (we are suggesting a recording that
can be shared and transcribed if necessary), that there is no discussion or deliberation
(none was ever intended, strictly Q&A) and that the Board has to announce this as a
special board meeting 24 hours in advance outlining it as a forum with the public,
presented by NEMCCA. (This can be done at their Special Board meeting being held
on January 8,2014).
Since I received the requirements from Ms. Holdstedt, the Chair, who said he had also
spoken with Ms. Holdstedt, contacted one of our board members saying the meeting is
definitely a violation of the public meeting laws. However, Mr. O’Neil has been unable
to explain what portion of the law we could be violating.
Please send too us your view of our request and tell us if our protocol is accurate and if
not, then what can we do to correct this matter.
NEMCCA (Northeast Multnomah Community Association) is a public entity established
in the late 1950’s to pass along matters that concern our community and we are not
allowed by bylaws to express a political opinion. Therefore, we are trying to do what is
best for our community and that is to provide the community with information.