The Neosho R-5 Board of Education's search for a new superintendent got off on the wrong foot last week by deciding in an illegal closed session to set up a community selection committee.
A careful examination of the Missouri Open Meetings Law shows no exception by which the board could discuss this topic in a closed session. School boards and city councils across the state use an umbrella exemption of "personnel" for these sessions, but the law clearly states that only applies to the hiring, firing, promoting, or disciplining of identifiable individuals. This meeting topic had nothing whatsoever to do with any of those.
It is ironic that the board decided to open up the process during a meeting that should have been open to the public.
Also interesting was the statement of current superintendent Mark Mitchell, who is resigning at the end of the current school year. "The board wants interested members of the community to serve on this committee," Mitchell was quoted as saying in The Neosho Daily News. I should hope so. It wouldn't make much sense to try to choose a superintendent with a group of people who are not interested.
Hopefully, the board will follow the law during the remainder of its superintendent search. In this day and age, there is absolutely no excuse for school board members, city council members, or any other elected official not to know what the law is. And if you are going to err, err on the side of the right of the people to know.
The Open Meetings Law does not say you have to hold closed sessions to discuss any of the permitted exceptions. All it says that the board has the option of doing so. Unfortunately, most elected officials I have run into seem to be of the belief that what the public does not know, won't hurt it.
Sad childhood memories came rushing back to me Friday night at Northpark Mall. As I was talking to some current students of mine from South and some former students in my classes at Diamond, a painfully out-of-shape gentleman (using the term loosely) streaked through the mall. It appeared that all he had on was a thong, though I couldn't bring myself to actually take a good look without a lifetime supply of Pepto-Bismol.
Anyone who is nostalgic for the '70s should reconsider. Bystanders said he took a right to enter the food court and then took a right to exit the building. I don't know whether Mall Security caught up with the guy, but this obviously proves that two rights don't make a thong.