400 page policy manual is bone of contention for School Board member

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Carolyn Roy | News Editor

Most unusual for the board was a confrontation between board members Regine Bell, board president Steven Harris and Supt. Dr. Grant Eloi at the committee meeting Tuesday. Bell was unhappy that she had not received a copy of the policy manual that is over 400 pages and contained in a large binder. She confronted Eloi who told her the manual was online and the printed copy became defunct every time there was a change.

This article published in the Nov. 6, 2021, print edition
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He said that was the reason it was online because changes could be made more timely. “That’s why you go online,” Eloi said, “It will be defunct this week.”

The confrontation was peppered with Bell telling Eloi, “You didn’t provide me with what I asked for.”

“I heard you the first time,” Eloi said.

“I’m a policy maker and I need to have a policy manual,” Bell answered.

She said she and board member Dorothy McGaskey had not received copies of the policy. Bell stated she had a learning disability that limited her to two hours a day on the internet. Therefore she had trouble accessing the policy manual online. She said she also had trouble accessing the meeting documents that are available on BoardDocs, a school board management software that is on tablets at each board member’s seat.

Bell said that if she had trouble accessing the documents and policy manual, students would have the same trouble since about 40 in her district had no internet access. She again said that two weeks ago she had requested, but did not receive, the policy manual.

Harris loudly rapped the gavel and said, “The third time I tap this gavel, somebody’s going to be removed. Take it up after the meeting.”

McGaskey also said it was time to move on.

When it came up later in the meeting, board member Emile Metoyer told Bell she could have asked a senior member of the board for help, and that until Tuesday, a copy of the policy manual had been in the boardroom. She replied that she had emailed Eloi and copied it to Harris about getting a copy of the policy manual, but had been denied.

Metoyer countered that if she had a question about the manual, she could have it added it to the agenda with a vote from the board.

Board member Reba Phelps told Bell that she did not attend a recent four-hour retreat for board members that addressed many issues including those of technology and use of BoardDocs.

Eloi’s statement about the print manual becoming defunct on a regular basis was emphasized by the addition of seven policy changes, some resulting from legislative action, just this week. Those changes are outlined in the front page school board story in this edition.