Tensions rise over open enrollment

Board member accuses other members of having ‘private agendas’

By Sam Wildow - Miami Valley Today

TIPP CITY — A Tipp School Board of Education work session grew contentious this week when board member Simon Patry repeatedly attempted to get the topic of open enrollment added to the board’s next meeting agenda for Monday and board member Corine Doll accused Patry and board member Joellen Heatherly of each having a “private agenda.”

Patry, during a vote to adjourn, interrupted the vote to motion to amend the adjournment as an attempt to request to speak to the board. During the meeting — which was a virtual meeting held on Zoom and streamed live on YouTube on Tuesday — Patry accidentally had his mic muted, preventing him from speaking before the motion to adjourn was made.

When the board allowed Patry to speak, Patry and Heatherly each asked to have the topic of open enrollment added to the agenda for the next meeting, which will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, April 27. This meeting will also be streamed on YouTube.

The board has voted twice on open enrollment, once rescinding the votes the board made on March 16 and later voting down open enrollment for the district by a majority vote on March 31. Doll, Board President Theresa Dunaway, and board member Anne Zakkour voted against open enrollment, while Heatherly and Patry voted in favor of open enrollment.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Doll, Zakkour, and Dunaway were against adding open enrollment to the agenda again. When Dunaway said no to adding it to the next agenda due to the board already having discussed the topic numerous times, Patry repeatedly asked for it to be added to agenda, saying, “You have two board members who have asked you to put something on the agenda, you have to.”

It is unclear if two out of five board members can force an item to be placed on the agenda prior to the agenda being created. Once an agenda has been created, it takes a majority vote, or two-thirds, to change it by the Robert’s Rules of Order, by which the board is operating. Board members can discuss items under new or old business.

When Patry again asked for open enrollment to be added to the next agenda, Doll said that she did not believe it was good “boardmanship,” saying, “We have to move forward for Tipp City Schools and not for your private agenda.”

Heatherly began to explain her reasoning, saying, “I think the implication of this vote has created some hardships for people in our community.”

Doll interrupted and said, “Not in our community.”

Heatherly went on to say, “Because of these current circumstances, those students that were open enrolled who have now received notice that they cannot attend our district anymore, their families don’t have any other options.”

Doll responded by saying, “They could go to the schools where they live.”

Zakkour asked what Heatherly meant when she referred to there being no other options.

“That’s what I want us to talk about. Are there any other options that we can explore for them given the hardship that we’re creating because of the COVID-19,” Heatherly said.

“We are not creating a hardship, Joellen,” Doll said.

“That’s an unfair narrative,” Zakkour said.

“This is taking away from our real job, which is working for Tipp City schools,” Doll said. “You and Simon have a private agenda for whoever it is that you have a private agenda for. If you want to bring it back up under Robert’s Rules, Simon has the right to, that’s fine, but I want to just be clear, this is your two’s private agenda for whoever it is.”

Patry responded to that statement by saying, “I don’t need to be personally attacked here because I want to bring something on the agenda. If you want to articulate arguments as what I’m going to bring up on, that’s fine, but don’t imply or infer that I’m acting inappropriate on a personal agenda on a board meeting because I’ve simply asked to add something to an agenda.”

At this point, Treasurer Dave Stevens interjected, saying, “I’m going to ask that we stop.”

Zakkour then spoke about Robert’s Rules of Order, suggesting that a board member be a member of the “prevailing party” in order to add items to the agenda.

“The reason there’s a procedure like that is so we don’t go down into an abyss continually putting things up on the agenda over and over and over,” Zakkour said. “(At) some point, the governance needs to move forward to new items.”

Zakkour suggested Patry address this topic under old business during the next meeting, but Patry continued with his request.

“I’d like to add it the agenda for the next meeting, and if somebody has some authority as to why I’m not allowed to do that, I’m very glad to look at that,” Patry said.

Zakkour asked about the purpose of adding the topic to the agenda again.

Heatherly responded, saying that students who were previously attending the district through open enrollment “don’t have any options.” She said, “They can’t go buy a house right now. They can’t move into our district. There has been no closure for their students. And we talked about caring about students, there’s been no action that our students are able to conclude their school year among their teachers and their friends.”

“There was no trickery here,” Zakkour said. “Every year you sign those forms, there’s no guarantee.”

Dunaway ended the discussion by saying she would discuss adding the item to the agenda when she works on putting the agenda together with school officials.

On Thursday, when asked if the topic of open enrollment would be appearing on the agenda, Dunaway stated the agenda would be available for the public to see at noon on Monday on the district’s website under BoardDocs.

Board member accuses other members of having ‘private agendas’

By Sam Wildow

Miami Valley Today

Reach the writer at swildow@aimmediamidwest.com. © 2020 Miami Valley Today, all rights reserved.

Reach the writer at swildow@aimmediamidwest.com. © 2020 Miami Valley Today, all rights reserved.