Proviso District 209 School Board President Rodney Alexander reversed an earlier ruling and announced school board meetings would again be televised live, starting with a boisterous five-hour meeting on November 9 at the high school Proviso East.
Alexander’s controversial decision not to live stream the October 12 regular board meeting sparked an uproar from parents and district staff and prompted two board members – Amanda Grant and Claudia Medina – to organize their own community listening sessions in the weeks that followed.
Alexandre, addressing decision to resume video broadcasts towards the end of the long November 9 board meeting, said the livestream is back because the board wanted it back.
“It’s a privilege, however,” he said. “It has nothing to do with transparency… live streaming is not a requirement.”
In an interview after abruptly halting the practice on Oct. 12, eliminating something that had been in place since 2017, Alexander told Review that the behavior of community members who attended recent board meetings led to decision.
“The law doesn’t require us to register at all,” Alexander said at the time. “The superintendent and I are responsible for arranging the meetings. We knew the crowd was coming. We knew the teachers’ union was putting on these plays or whatever. “
On October 13, a day after last month’s meeting, Alexander vowed to no longer live stream or record regular board meetings and board committee meetings as part of an effort to master them.
His recent turnaround has not accompanied a quieter environment.
More than 100 people attended the November 9 board meeting, including a group of district teachers who sharply criticized some board members and the district superintendent. James Henderson negotiating a new contract with the teachers’ union.
Those in Maywood had to wait several hours to hear their voices as the council chose to move public comments later in the scheduled agenda. The public comment period was then pushed back to the agenda after Medina decided to do so around 9:30 p.m., two hours after the meeting started, saying some attendees were due to come home on a school night. .
During the public comment period, a series of emotional speakers sparked an avalanche of criticism of the board and administration, ranging from concerns about safety in school buildings, a backlog of computer issues, and behavior and issues. Out of control student fights – something Henderson addressed in a video to the district earlier this month.
Alexander also spoke about the atmosphere in the three high schools of D209, citing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives of students at home and at school, and saying that the violent environment described by some parents at the board meeting was overkill.
“I vehemently reject the idea that our academics are out of control,” he said.
Alexander was combative throughout the meeting, running into Medina in particular for everything from the superintendent’s credit card expenses, to hiring additional security personnel, to personnel and facility issues.
When the time finally came to vote on a number of items presented at the meeting, it was after midnight on November 10. The board was split on most votes, with Medina and Grant in the minority.
The disputed issues included the purchase of a program improvement program called Educational Epiphany at a cost of $ 533,660 for “professional development, workshops and services, literacy kits, resource guides, a video library. , a school license and consumables ”. This purchase was approved by a 5-2 vote.
Medina, who voted against the purchase, called the cost “absolutely exorbitant,” which several other board members contested.
“I don’t think this amount is too big to invest in our children,” said Theresa Kelly, board member.
The program was presented in the early evening by Dr. Donyall Dickey, who touted its effectiveness in teaching literacy and improving students’ overall skills by moving away from a teaching practice in order to improve test results. It drew applause from some in the audience, including teachers, but when the prize was revealed, one audience member ridiculed the program as half a million dollars for “flash cards.”
Grant, who also voted no on the purchase, warned the decision was made too hastily because the board had not received studies of its effectiveness in other districts or received buy-in. widespread teachers.
Dickey is a former school administrator in Atlanta who was briefly chosen to be the superintendent of the school in Portland, Oregon in 2017. However, Dickey withdrew his interest in the position after school board members said he was ‘he had shown a “lack of candor” about his background. , including a minor criminal history, the Oregonian newspaper reported at the time.