Parker expresses frustration

Published 9:13 am Tuesday, May 15, 2012

WINDSOR – A board meeting that was not properly advertised has one member of the Bertie County Board of Education unhappy.

Board member Alton Parker said Monday morning he had planned to participate in last Thursday’s meeting with the Bertie County Commissioners, but could not because the school district did not properly advertise the meeting.

“I was asked specifically by (School Board Chair) Mrs. (Gloria) Lee to be at the meeting,” Parker said. “There was a desire to have a quorum present so that if we needed to act on anything, we could.  In my opinion, if you are going to have a meeting with the commissioners, you want as many sets of ears listening as possible. You want a majority and not just two board members.”

Parker said he had missed the board’s called meeting on May 7 because he was out of state and that he was contacted by Lee to make sure he could attend Thursday’s meeting. Parker said he was told that board members Pamela Chamblee and Rickey Freeman could not be in attendance and that he was needed to ensure a quorum.

The joint meeting was a special gathering for both boards to discuss the construction costs of the new Bertie High School. The Bertie County Commissioners advertised the meeting, but the school board did not.  Parker said the school district administration had failed to advertise and therefore a quorum could not be at the meeting.

Parker said he received an email from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Debbie Harris-Rollins that the meeting was not announced and that only Lee and Vice Chair Emma Johnson would attend.

“The superintendent assumed that they were the only two planning to go, but I had planned to be there,” Parker said. “I spoke to Mrs. Lee and she offered not to go and to let me attend in her place, but I didn’t think that was proper. She is the board chair and I felt she should be there.”

Parker said he made his displeasure with the situation known to Lee when they were on the telephone discussing the matter.

“I did make it known at that time I was very upset that people in central office did not have the meeting posted 48 hours in advance as is required by law,” Parker said. “As many high-paid employees as we have there the ball should not have been dropped.”

Parker said the source of his frustration was that he thought the meeting was important and should have been a priority.

“This was not just a planning meeting, we were presenting our actual budget and discussing the new high school,” Parker said. “The more eyes and ears that are in place, the better I liked it. I’m not just talking about me being there, but all of us.”

The school board member said he knew there were issues with the bids for the new high school and that he wanted to hear first-hand what those issues were.

“My main concern is that if you’re going to have a meeting of that magnitude, you want a quorum there,” he said. “If all five can’t be there, you at least want the three who can be there. Board members shouldn’t miss meetings because of a technicality you know has to be done. Calling special meetings are standard practices.”

Parker said if the superintendent did not have time to call the meeting, it should have been delegated.

In closing, Parker said he wanted to make it clear he was speaking on his own.

“I am speaking as an individual,” he stressed. “I am not speaking for the board or trying to put words in their mouths. I am not trying to downgrade the superintendent, but these are things I think should be known.”