Peckham School Board chooses interim superintendentAugust 28, 2019 | Featured|Headlines
By SHARON ROWEN | KAY NEWSCOW
PECKHAM — It took two minutes for members of the Peckham School Board to unanimously approve a motion to select Johnie Decker as the interim school superintendent.
The board held a special meeting at noon on Wednesday.
The selection follows a decision made by the Oklahoma State School Board last week to suspend the license of long time superintendent Gary Young. (See story)
Board president Kim Case led off the meeting by stating that board members have been advised by an attorney that they can’t comment on the Gary Young situation.
Case said that as of last Thursday, Young can no longer legally serve the school district or receive compensation. She said an attorney also advised the board not to go into executive session to discuss the appointment of an interim superintendent.
Board members Barclay Locke, Maribeth Ratliff and Case approved a motion to name Decker interim superintendent.
Decker is in her 23rd year of employment with the school.
She said the situation is overwhelming.
The board also named Randi Easley treasurer. Easley said the situation with Young should not and doesn’t reflect on school staff. “We have an awesome community and staff,” she said. “The negative commentary doesn’t reflect on any of us. We are excited to start school next week. All of the teachers are ready to start school and we have a great year planned. Johnie is going to do a great job.”
kaynewscow.com and two representatives of KFOR-TV attended the meeting. Case asked that the media not move around during the meeting.
Oklahoma State University professor and open government specialist Joey Senat said today the Open Meeting Act does not prohibit audience members from “moving around” during a meeting.
“The school board might be mistaking a public meeting for a classroom,” said Senat. “The Open Meeting Act permits anyone attending a public meeting to record the meeting as long as the recording does “not interfere with the conduct of the meeting. Under a 1981 attorney general opinion, public bodies have the power to maintain decorum and order in their meetings. But the statute doesn’t prohibit audience members from “moving around” during a meeting or grant members of the public body the authority to stop people from simply getting up from their seats. Depending on the facts, a school board would face a heavy burden proving that simply moving around interfered with the conduct of the meeting. On the other hand, telling – or even asking – the public not to move during a meeting could be reasonably interpreted as having a chilling effect on reporters seeking to cover the meeting. That would violate the First Amendment.”
A Kay County deputy was also present at the meeting.
Peckham School has been undergoing renovations for at least one year, therefore delaying the start of school until next week. School officials said the renovations have to be approved by the state fire marshal’s office before school can start on Sept. 3.