this weeks edition:
Minutes of governmental body’s meetings are a public record. They cast sometimes the only true reflection of what occurred… after time passes and memories fail. A few weeks ago we detected an unusual occurrence at the Board of Education meeting. They corrected minutes from a meeting that happened nearly 6 months prior.
Of course public bodies, like all of us, make mistakes. So they should correct any mistake as soon as they realize the error. While the extended time frame to correct the minutes brought it to our attention, that in itself is not a violation of any type of law or public trust. I do however take issue with the so called “correction.” The original action was to post an opening for an assistant coach on a sports team. That certainly seemed ordinary. The correction however was not ordinary. The portion the board changed went from advertising the position to approving the “prior posting” of the position and hiring someone to fill it… all at the same time.
I made some inquiries which did not add any clarity to the situation. I called the Superintendent who did return my call. He said he was not aware of exactly what had necessitated the change and that he would investigate and get back to me. A week or so later I called Mr. Dilly back. He told me their attorney told them, there was no time frame on making such changes. I again, explained that the time frame, while unusual, was not an issue. My problem is that the correction changed the entire scope of the original action. He added that he felt it had to do with the payroll department. I imagined that might be the case.
I don’t have a problem with the intent here. What I have a problem with is changing an official record to cover-up an error or omission. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
The Board of Education wants the public’s trust. How can they get and maintain that if they allow such violations. A mistake is a mistake. Minutes should be a true reflection of what transpired in an official meeting. Don’t use the latter in an attempt to correct such a mistake. The Board of Education should be ashamed of allowing this to occur. Their first and foremost responsibility has to be to the people who elected them and the children of this school system.
A sad note…
My heart is very heavy as I write this column. I learned Sunday evening of the untimely death of my good friend Jim Lambert. I have known Jim since high school and I greatly admired him. His life was filled with personal tragedy that no man should have to endure. The loss of his young wife to cancer. The death of his parents in a house fire and more. Yet, he devoted his energy to those around him. He was a dedicated pubic servant. He touched the lives of thousands of young men and women as they walked the halls where he taught and was principal.
Jim and my friendship has always been good, but it gained strength after his retirement when he decided to print the Gassaway High School book. As I have said before, that piece is one of the brightest shining stars of my professional life.
I enjoyed doing the book, but more than anything else I enjoyed visiting with Jim and hearing the stories, some of which made it to paper and many that didn’t. We were working on a smaller project which will now go unfinished and I hate that. Jim was a protectionist when it came to his writing. I am not sure he was ever totally happy with anything we printed in the book or the newspaper. His stories were filled with history and funny antidotes. We will miss him here at the paper and I will miss him personally. Rest easy ole friend… you were one of a kind.