School Board Workshops Rob Public Of Participation


The Broward County School Board talks about being responsive.

Yet it does most of its work at workshops which are not televised and where the public isn’t allowed to speak.

This wouldn’t be a problem except many of the key decisions and much of the debate take place at workshops. The decisions are simply ratified at regular meetings.

 It has gotten so ridiculous that member Robin Bartleman was criticized for asking questions on television about the general counsel’s contract at last week’s regular meeting. She was told that the information was covered at an earlier workshop when the prying eyes of the cameras were shut.

Bartleman had missed the workshop because of a sick child.

Couldn’t Bartleman have read a recap of the workshop discussion in the minutes?

Not really.

Here is the minutes concerning the debate Bartleman missed:

 “The School Board Members had a good discussion regarding the RLI and the contract and agreed that because of the past turbulent year this Board has gone through, the RLI was not pursued.

It fulfills the Sunshine Law requirement for minutes, but doesn’t really let the sunshine in. The minimalist minutes are designed to disguise the position of each member.

School Board Chair Maureen Dinnen defends the workshops:

“Workshops gives the School Board Members the opportunity to have discussions and give direction, but do not vote on items. 

Translation: The members don’t take a formal vote, but each one gives their position and opinions on an issue.

The real debate concerning almost every important issue at the School Board took place at a workshop, including almost all the discussions on the budget.

Before Christmas, these issues the educational lingo is the School Board’s shorthand direct from the agendas — are scheduled to be discussed at two workshops:

  1. Investment Performance Report
  2. Inventory Audits
  3. Config. Supt’s Ins. Advisory Comm.
  4. SBMs’ Requests for Workshop Items
  5. Open Items: Budget/Legislative Update
  6. Policy 5.9, Anti Bullying
  7. Policy 3400.1, NonInstructional Overtime
  8. Boundaries (4)
  9. Pre-K Programs
  10. Relocation Strategy/Empty Sites
  11. Technology Strategic Plan
  12. Alt. Centers Update
  13. School Board Members’ Requests for Workshop Items
  14. Open Items: Budget/Legislative

Got an interest in these issues?

You’ll have to take off work for the day and travel to downtown Fort Lauderdale to watch the School Board because you can’t see the meeting on TV.  And you won’t be able to speak at the meeting.

The School Board recently decided to “consider” allowing taxpayers the chance to speak at future workshops.

And where are they going to discuss it? At a workshop.

8 Responses to “School Board Workshops Rob Public Of Participation”

  1. Gina says:

    The workshops are another way the power structure and school administration keeps control. Lobbyists like Neil Sterling and school administrators always attend the meetings. Clearly the public are not welcome and at some meetings, there are not even enough seats for the public.

  2. InTheKnow says:

    As if it’s only the School Board that has no public participation or broadcasting during workshops.

    Name the cities or other agencies that do.

    FROM BUDDY: Name another city that has as many workshops as the School Board and does most of its debating at them.
    Actually, Fort Lauderdale broadcasts its workshops on the web.
    The county commission broadcasts not only its workshops, but bid openings and committee meetings on the web.

  3. bob thorgood says:

    The School Board complains about not getting enough money and then puts out as little information as possible about their budget. I think they talk about it at a workshop so that property owners can’t use it as an opportunity to complain about the waste.

  4. School Employee says:

    Another decision that only took place at a workshop involved preventing Ms. Hope from being the next chair tomorrow. She was inline to win the seat, but members suddenly decided at a workshop to give the job to Mr. Williams. Everybody at KCW knows it was the work of Ms. Dinnen, the witch who believes she can retain control through Mr. Williams.

  5. Nobody44441 says:

    All discussions take place between them at workshop meetings. If something is scheduled for the regular meeting they defer it to workshop. If you’ve ever sat in at one of these, you’ll find them trying to second guess information because the staff is not bringing them the facts. Staff uses the workshops for their own agenda just like the school board members. How can they operate when no one is permitted to correct their mistaken beliefs during these discussions? It’s a joke.
    They use the workshops as an excuse. Decisions are made there and never brought to the regular board meetings. Then when one of them finds it useful, they point out that there was never a vote, just a discussion at workshop. Otherwise, the “non-decisions” made there get cast in stone and on it goes. So much for the public being aware of anything.

  6. corrector says:

    You missed the irony that it’s the School Board who operates the TV station. There is no excuse for not broadcasting every Board meeting, including Retreats & Workshops. Only meetings dealing with personnel issues & closed door negotiating sessions, which are excluded from the Sunshine Law for good reason, should not be broadcast.

  7. look at the facts says:

    Sounds like Cooper City Mayor Debby Eisinger and her cabal of Team De Jesus!

  8. Ed Wooley, Cooper City resident says:

    It sounds a lot like Cooper City with “pablum” minutes, denied/delayed public records requests that might embarrass city officials and staff, residents denied permits because they haven’t closed out old ones ( but the city then not providing documentation of such outstanding permits.) We also are beginning to have a lot of issues that should be the subject of public debate and participation being put on the “consent” agenda wherein several measures can be voted on en masse without commissioners having to take a clear stand on any one of them. In my more cynical moments, CC is beginning to sound more like Chicago Clone than Cooper City.