Reorganization of the board would involve reassigning officer titles among the existing members.
Board member Keith Petrus, who introduced the option, said he felt there was a need for a better relationship between the superintendent and board president. A tumultuous relationship between the two, in Petrus’ opinion, reflected poorly on the entire board.
Petrus said he felt uncomfortable during a discussion between the two at the May meeting. He also said that the superintendent, Dr. Brett Belmarez, has done a remarkable job.
“If I were in [the president’s] position, I would be singing [the superintendent’s] praises,” Petrus said to the rest of the board. “I don’t understand why there’s such animosity between the two of you.”
Rick Olivares responded by saying that he respected the superintendent and that he would make comments about Dr. Belmarez whether or not he was president.
“If [Dr. Belmarez] says or does something, he needs to fess up,” said Olivares.
Esequiel Ortiz, board vice president, pointed out that there are only three more board meetings until the next election, when reorganization will likely take place on its own.
The board then argued over whether the act of reorganizing required a formal motion and/or vote based on the wording of the item on the meeting’s agenda.
After some inconclusive discussion, Petrus nominated board member James Bennett for president of the board. The nomination was seconded by board member Ken Haggard.
“The floor’s not open,” Olivares replied.
Petrus then moved to simply reorganize the board and was again seconded by Haggard.
Dr. Belmarez stepped in and offered to call an attorney to determine the proper legal procedures in that situation. The board went into closed session to consult with the attorney via speaker phone.
Upon return to open session, Petrus and Haggard both immediately withdrew the motion and second.
Sarah Taylor is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or email@example.com.