Split decisions

Published 11:00 am Friday, December 10, 2010

WINDSOR – The Bertie County Board of Education made three decisions on split votes here Tuesday night.

During their regular meeting, board members disagreed on the choice of a Vice Chair, the written minutes of a previous meeting and what to include in upcoming minutes.

The meeting began with three reelected board members officially being sworn in for new four year terms. Alton Parker, Rickey Freeman and Emma Johnson were each elected in November.

Moments after taking the oath, the reorganization of the board took place.

Interim Bertie County Schools Superintendent Dr. Will Crawford called for nominations for Board Chairperson. Board member Pamela Chamblee and Freeman each moved to have Gloria Lee continue in that role.

Dr. Crawford called for a vote by acclamation and Lee was unanimously selected to retain the spot.

“Thank you for your leadership,” Parker said to Lee. “You’re doing a great job.”

With the mantle of leadership back on her shoulders, Lee called for nominations for Vice Chair.

Johnson nominated Chamblee for the post and then Freeman nominated Parker, who had been the Vice Chair, to remain in that position.

Lee asked for those in favor of Chamblee and she and Johnson raised their hands. After wavering for a moment, Chamblee eventually raised her hand in support of her own nomination.

When Lee called for those voting for Parker, Freeman and Parker voted for him to retain the spot.

The 3-2 vote made Chamblee the board’s new vice chair.

While there was no discussion about the split vote, it was a premonition of things to come in the meeting.

The normally simple job of approving the minutes, which occurred later on the agenda, also caused a pair of split votes.

While the board reviewed the minutes, Chamblee and Johnson each said they wanted more information provided in the written minutes.

Chamblee expressed concern that the minutes did not include pertinent information about the discussions and offered a motion to add more information to the minutes.

“The minutes are still too vague,” Chamblee said.

“That’s the way I see it too,” Johnson added.

Lee called for a vote and Chamblee, Johnson and Lee all voted in favor of the motion with Parker and Freeman voting against.

“How can you be against adding more information to the minutes,” Chamblee asked.

Freeman said the minutes were correct according to state statutes and that any documents that were necessary were available for review if people wanted more information.

As the group continued reading over the minutes for the November 4 meeting, Freeman said he had an issue with information on the last page of the document concerning a unanimous vote to send a letter to the Bertie County Commissioners requesting additional compensation for board of education members for additional meetings.

“I was not under the impression that’s what we voted on,” Freeman said.

Chamblee shot back, “You didn’t know what you voted on.”

Freeman said he was unclear and Chamblee asked if there was a tape of the discussion. Clerk to the Board Tonya Davis said there was not.

Board Attorney Rod Malone clarified that he took the notes because the discussion happened after a closed session.

“I kept the minutes,” he said. “They reflect what I thought happened.”

Chamblee said the minutes reflected what did happen.

Malone said he would not venture to guess what a board member was thinking when they cast a vote, but said he was certain that was the motion that was made.

Freeman said he was not in favor of the proposal and Lee inquired if he was asking to have an additional vote on the matter. Parker added that he too was confused about the vote.

Malone said the “cleanest” way to handle the matter would be to hold a vote on the minutes and allow Freeman and Parker to vote against the minutes and then make a statement that would be reflected in the minutes of the current meeting.

Chamblee made a motion to approve the minutes and the item passed on a 3-2 vote with Parker and Freeman recording nay votes.

Afterwards, Freeman said, “I was unclear of the motion and that’s all I have to say.”

Parker said he was also unclear.