The school board's proposed new electronic attendance policy will have to wait for now.
The Board of Education failed to adopt the policy on second and final reading Thursday night, after unanimously approving it in January.
Under the proposed policy, school board members who are unable to attend regular or special meetings due to a family emergency, military service, or a work related absence would be able to participate through electronic attendance. Third district board member Kenny Rhody might have been able to take advantage of it since he has had to miss meetings for the last several months due to a serious illness. Before the end of the month, the board is expected to vote on Director Mark Willoughby's employment contract.
Fourth district member Billy Miller said Thursday night the proposal should have first gone to the board's policy committee before having been voted on. Miller made a motion that the first reading action taken last month be rescinded and that the measure be reviewed by the policy committee. "Since we do have a policy committee, policies brought before this board should be sent to the policy committee first and should be recommended by that board before coming to the full board," he said.
Miller added that he still has questions about the proposed policy. "There are some issues in here that are probably state laws that have to be mandated but there are clarifications I've tried to get that I have not been able to ascertain yet on some of the wording and verbage of this that I would like to get before I make a second motion on this," he said.
Sixth district member Doug Stephens offered a second to Miller's motion to rescind action from last month and send the measure to the policy committee. Fifth district member W.J. (Dub) Evins, III joined Miller and Stephens in voting for it. Board members Charles Robinson, John David Foutch, and Chairman Johnny Lattimore voted against rescinding action. Since four affirmative votes are needed for passage, Miller's motion failed.
First District member Foutch then made a motion to adopt the electronic attendance policy on second and final reading. Robinson offered a second to the motion. Again, the vote failed 3-3 with Foutch, Robinson, and Lattimore voting for it and Miller, Stephens, and Evins voting against.
Another vote was then taken on Miller's restated motion to rescind and send the proposal to the policy committee. This time, Lattimore joined Miller, Stephens, and Evins in voting for it in order to avoid a further stalemate.
Members of the policy committee are Miller, Stephens, and Rhody. But since Rhody is unable to attend, Chairman Lattimore appointed Robinson to the committee. The policy committee is expected to convene to discuss the proposed electronic attendance policy on Tuesday, March 4.
Under the proposed policy, an absent board member may attend a regular or special meeting by electronic means as often as he or she is able to do so if the absence is because of military service. However, a board member may not participate electronically more than two times per year for absences due to work and or family emergencies. A quorum of the Board must be physically present at the meeting in order for any member to attend electronically.
Any member wishing to participate electronically must do so using technology which allows the Chair to visually identify the member.
The responsibility for the connection lies with the member wishing to participate electronically. No more than three attempts to connect shall be made, unless the Board chooses to make additional attempts.
The policy provides for electronic attendance due to a family emergency. The member must be absent due to the hospitalization of the member or the death or hospitalization of the member's spouse, father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, step-son, step-daughter, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law.
Electronic attendance is also provided due to a work related absence. Under the policy, the board member must be absent from the county due to work. The member wishing to participate must give the Chair and director at least five days notice prior to the meeting of the member's desire to participate electronically.