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Freeport School News
October 2002

October 9, 2002 (posted Oct. 12)

Raab Goes Bonkers As
Board Violates Open Meetings Law

by Stewart S Lilker

The pressure of a failing school district, gangs, and illegal board activity apparently got to Freeport school Board member Michael Raab, as he went bonkers at the conclusion of the October 9, 2002 board planning meeting.

Raab, always excitable, became unhinged when your reporter asked him about Board President, Sunday Cowardís motion to go into executive session to discuss "board development."

Your reporter asked Raab if he could explain board development. Raab said, "It is similar to a board retreat. Itís human relations among board members. I donít know."

Your reporter told Raab, "This is not grounds for discussion in executive session. This is not legal."

Raab replied, "We spoke to the attorney. He said it was all right."

Your reporter asked, "Who was the attorney?"

Raab became agitated, "If you are going to report this, Iím not going to talk to you."

Your reporter reminded Raab that he was a resident and that it would be nice if he answered.

Not wanting to waste anymore time with Raab, your reporter began to walk away and he and Raab brushed against each other.

Incredibly, Raab froze; his eyes rolled back in his head; his face became contorted; his eyes rolled forward and with a crazed look he scretched at the top of his lungs, "You just assaulted me. Iím going to have you arrested."

No one really paid attention to Raab. Your reporter, shocked at this outburst, told him, "Youíre crazy, get out of my face," and walked away.

Prior to discussing this item with Raab, your reporter asked board member Joe Cattano, "Can you tell me what is board development?"

Cattano, with a grin on his face, replied, "Itís board development."

Board President Coward said, "Itís us learning. Itís development. Itís a work shop."

The Law Shows the Board Acted Illegally

The propriety of discussions held during board retreats and executive sessions is bound by Open Meetings Law (OML). Based on court opinion and the opinions of Robert Freeman, the Executive Director of Open Government, Coward and the rest of the board were and are clearly out of bounds discussing board development at retreats or executive sessions.

Regarding the Open Meetings Law, the Court of Appeals stated, "Obviously, every thought, as well as every affirmative act of a public official as it relates to and is within the scope of one's official duties is a matter of public concern. It is the entire decision-making process that the Legislature intended to affect by the enactment of this statute"

Director Freeman has stated, "Based upon the direction given by the courts, when a majority of a public body gathers to discuss public business, in their capacities as members of the body, any such gathering, in my opinion, would constitute a "meeting" subject to the Open Meetings Law.

Freeportís Superintendent, Dr. Eric Eversley, as well as the board, acting in concert, are continuing to do everything possible to intentionally subvert and circumvent the true intent and meaning of the Opening Meetings law.

The only honest answer to come out of Wednesdayís board meeting came from board member Ron Ellerbe. When asked what was board development, Ellerbe answered, "I have no idea."

Other Board Business
Superintendent and Board Ignore All Other Questions

The following questions were greeted by silence or incoherent mumbling and grins by the board president, Sunday Coward:

How much over budget are you on the construction projects?

Who is paying for the lease with Holy Redeemer on the New Visions School?

The New Visions School was supposed to be completed by the beginning of this school year. Why wasnít the building completed on time and why was there no penalty assessed to the contractor for not completing it on time?

How many new positions have been established by Superintendent and what is there cost to the district?

How are residents supposed to ask questions about agenda items when you donít give any information on the agenda?

Board member Joe Cattanoís remark that "the Freeport schools are the best advertisement for private schools" has never been truer.


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