Board Attorney John Nicholas interrupted the discussion and let Lancello and Fort know in no uncertain terms that only the president of the Board of Education, Annie Sharp, could speak for the board.
The interview ended. Lancello did not receive the information that he wanted to pass along to his station's listeners.
It would be naive to believe that Nicholas saw the interview, suddenly realized that an egregious violation of board tradition (there was no policy and no law that would require a board member to stay meekly silent on the sidelines) was taking place and intervened to protect the integrity of the board.
Someone gave him the order, whether it be Superintendent C. J. Huff or Annie Sharp, or perhaps even another concerned board member like Mike Landis.
That intervention was even criticized on the Joplin Globe editorial page, which has served as a both a shrine and a place of strong support for C. J. Huff in the past.
If the Huff Administration gets its way, the removal of board members' First Amendment rights, as well as the First Amendment rights of employees will be cast aside and a new policy will centralize the message in the hands of the superintendent, the president of the board of education, or anyone designated by one of the two.
While the policy is careful not to say that any board member or employee is prohibited from speaking, it is less than subtle in passing along the message that you keep your mouth shut or you will suffer the consequences.
The first reading of the policy is on the consent agenda for Tuesday's 6 p.m. meeting of the Joplin R-8 Board of Education.
Amusingly, especially coming from the C. J. Huff Administration, one of the reasons listed for doing this, and included in the policy, is to "eliminate rumors and misinformation."
This comes from the same superintendent who said that the new Joplin High School had not failed an August inspection, told the media and patrons that computer tech official Ronny Justin Myers did not have access to children, when in fact, he had access to their computers both at school and while they were at home, and switched stories every two minutes on how the six-and-a-half-mile ribbon came into being (and let's not even mention the school district's financial situation).
Another reason for the policy, it says is even more galling- To "promote a climate of trust."
Six years late and millions and millions of dollars short.
SUBSCRIPTION OFFER- Help make sure the voices of those who disagree with the C. J. Huff Administration as well as those who are willing to closely examine what is going on in the Joplin R-8 School District, city of Joplin, and our judicial system continue to be heard. A subscription button is located on the upper right hand corner of this page. Subscriptions cost $1 per week, $3 per month, or $30 per year. Those who do not want to subscribe through PayPal or by credit card may send a check to me at 2306 E. 8th, Apt. G. Thanks for your support.