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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Ceranski Protest Leaves No School Board Quorum

Issue Date: July 15, 2021

The Marinette School District Board of Education meeting scheduled for Tuesday, July 13 ended before it began when Board Member Brian Ceranski walked out after trying unsuccessfully to get a discussion on the pandemic policy added to the agenda. Ceranski's departure left only four of the nine board members present, and five is required for a quorum so board members dispersed and no meeting was held.

Conversation after the non-meeting indicated that a special board meeting will need to be called to deal with monthly business. Meetings are normally held on the third Tuesday of each month.

At the start of the July 13 proceedings, District Administrator Corrie Lambie announced that with Board President John LaCourt and Vice President Terri Florek both absent Clerk Tom Faller would chair the meeting. Board members Rose O'Hara and Chuck Rowell were also absent. Lambie asked if that was okay with the board and no one voiced an objection. Board members present were Faller, Ceranski, Judy Grace, Cindy Verschay and Eric Craver.

The next item after roll call is approval of the agenda, and Ceranski asked to have it amended to allow a board discussion on the epidemic/pandemic policy adopted a year ago, on July 21, 2020.

That policy states:

"Epidemics and pandemics, although related, are different. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines an epidemic as "an increase, often sudden, in the number of cases of a disease above what is normally expected in that population in that area," and a pandemic as "an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people." To address epidemics and pandemics, the District Administrator shall establish an Epidemic/Pandemic Response Team ("EPRT") to develop an Epidemic/Pandemic Plan in coordination with local government and law enforcement officials. The EPRT may work as part of or in coordination with the Environmental Safety Committee and the plan developed in accordance with Policy 8405 - Environmental Health and Safety Program. District administration is granted authority to take appropriate action as required in any instance where the District's plan is inadequate or does not cover the particular situation being addressed, and the urgency of the situation dictates the necessity for immediate decisive action," and concludes: "The Epidemic/Pandemic Plan should be reviewed annually by the EPRT and updated as appropriate."

Ceranski stressed that he was not seeking action on the policy, just a discussion and clarification. He said he had questions since it was adopted a year ago, and objected to lack of communication at that time. He said the policy had been brought to the board for approval without even a meeting of the Policy Committee, just a series of telephone calls from Lambie to the three policy committee members.

"Communication is expected to be open and shared," Ceranski declared.

Lambie told him discussion at this time was not appropriate, but could be done when the Policy Committee meets. He said adding items to the agenda requires advance notice to stay in compliance with Open Meetings laws, "we cannot add an action item at this time."

Ceranski said he did not want action, just a board discussion. He said the board had not followed its own rules of order - its own policy - when it adopted the pandemic policy in July of last year.

He said by board rules, agendas for committee meetings must be published two hours in advance, and there was no record of a July 2020 policy committee meeting, "it was not in the board packet, and it was not reported at the board meeting." He repeated, "Only the board can approve a policy!"

Lambie repeated his contention that this could not be added or the agenda amended to allow it without proper notice to the public.

Ceranski repeated he wanted only discussion, not action, and declared the rule Lambie quoted was not in the board by-laws. He said the board, not the administrator, should be making the rules.

Lambie said Ceranski should talk with the board president and have the discussion placed on the agenda for the August board meeting.

Grace then moved to approve the agenda as printed, Claver seconded, and Faller and Verschay voted in favor.

"Make it noted that I am leaving this meeting at this time....I am all done!" Ceranski declared as he got up and prepared to leave.

His action was applauded by two members of the public in the back of the room. The man, who identified himself later as Martin Shaw, thanked Ceranski for standing up for them. At previous meetings Shaw had called on board members to take more control.

With only four of the nine board members left, the meeting could not go on, so no other business was taken care of.

Lambie said after the meeting that legal counsel is being consulted as to legality of contacting Policy Committee members individually by phone prior to placing the pandemic policy on the agenda for action at the July 2020 board meeting.

Also after the meeting, Martin said Lambie had made all the policy decisions regarding masks, attendance, social distancing, that were involved in handling the pandemic in the Marinette School District, and was critical of the School Board for not being involved in the decisions.


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