Householder unilaterally pulls item on her removal as Antioch School Board president

Screenshot of Antioch School Board meeting livestream on the district’s YouTube channel on Wednesday, September 8, 2021 before a power outage affected Trustee Mary Rocha’s home and her internet feed was disrupted.

Claims it wasn’t placed on the agenda properly although she reviewed and approved draft agenda before public notification; Trustee Rocha says she submitted it through Board VP Lewis, but he denies; Householder wouldn’t recognize points of order by Trustees Rocha and Hack violating Robert’s Rules of Order for a second meeting in a row; Rocha’s motion to remove Householder fails on 2-3 vote; Householder commits to placing vote on a future meeting agenda

By Allen Payton

During the regular meeting of the Antioch School Board Wednesday night, board president Ellie Householder unilaterally pulled the item on the vote her removal as board president and rebuffed multiple efforts at points of order on her decision by other board members, violating Robert’s Rules of Order for the second meeting in a row. (See meeting video) (See related articles here and here)

“Before delving into the meat of tonight’s agenda, I’m going to be pulling item 10.E. from our discussions, per Board Policy 9322 the board president and the superintendent as the secretary of the board shall work together to develop the agenda for each regular and special meeting. Each agenda shall reflect the district’s vision and goals, and the board’s focus on student learning.  So, every other Wednesday we have agenda meetings, and while the superintendent and vice chair are there, ultimately, it’s the board president who approves items going on the agenda. Last Wednesday, which I believe was September 1st, we did not discuss this item. And, you know, we have these processes for a reason, and we need to adhere to them. So, I’m going to be placing, I’m sorry.”

“I’d like to make a point of order,” said Superintendent Stephanie Anello. “I’m objecting.”

“Since item 10E was placed on the agenda without being discussed I’m pulling it from the tonight’s agenda,” Householder said, completing her statement.

“I’m objecting,” Anello then said. “That was on the…”

“Superintendent Anello, Superintendent Anello,” Householder said, interrupting her. “Just so you know, stop. Can’t provide feedback if recognized by the board president and you are not recognized. Next on the agenda we have superintendent reports.”

“Madame president, I disagree,” said Trustee Rocha, interrupting Householder. “I disagree.”

“Next up Next on the agenda we have superintendent reports,” Householder repeated and continued to speak as Rocha was trying to make her point of order, repeating, “Trustee Rocha, you’re out of order” several times.

“I sent that message to the vice president and the vice president was aware of it,” Rocha stated. “Now, you don’t want to discuss it, that’s up to you. But we have a right to put something on the agenda and I sent through the right course of action. So, I disagree with your trying to remove my remarks, as a trustee.”

Householder continued to move on saying, “Next up we have superintendent reports, so Superintendent Anello, take it away.”

“Oh, so you’re recognizing me?” Anello asked then went into a presentation on COVID issues in the district.

A couple bright spots occurred at the beginning of the meeting when Delta Veterans Group President J.R. Wilson was asked to lead the Pledge of Allegiance. In addition, Board V.P. Dr. Clyde Lewis suggested the board have a moment of silence for the 13 service members who died during the recent attack in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Following that Anello asked her staff to move up the public comments for item 10.E. to general public comments.

“I’m just going to say since the item was pulled, we should move up the public comments from item 10.E.,” Anello said.

Householder tried to have those comments heard at the end of the meeting saying, “do we want to have 60 minutes of public comments, now or move half of them to the end of the meeting?”

Rocha Affected By Power Outage, Her Internet Feed Goes Out

Right prior to them being read, electricity went out in a part of Antioch that includes where Rocha lives. So, she could no longer participate in the livestream. But she was available by phone.

Householder relented and allowed public comments from item 10.E. to be read during general public comments. Those were read prior to those submitted for item 10.E. Some were scathing against Householder while some were supportive, some were against District 1 Trustee Antonio Hernandez and some were critical of the rest of the board for tabling the items on the district’s restraining policies during last Thursday night’s special meeting. A few were supportive of Householder, Lewis and Hernandez.

The public comments submitted for item 10.E., on removing Householder as board president, were mostly against her, one negative comment about Lewis.

“We are at 8:21 and on our agenda we can go until 8:30 or we can just move on,” Householder said. “We will read the rest of those comments at the end of the meeting.”

“Madame Chair, this is Mary Rocha. I have a question for the superintendent,” Rocha then said, after Householder recognized her.

“Superintendent Anello is there a point of order here on removing an agenda item that has already been noticed to the public?” Rocha asked.

“That would be a question directed toward me and as I discussed it wasn’t discussed during our weekly agenda meeting,” Householder responded.

“In that case, president you’re saying that you’ll be discussing it at the next meeting, and you can put it on the next agenda, correct?” Rocha asked.

“I can’t say if it can or can’t be placed on the agenda,” Householder responded.

“I would like to hear what Stephanie Anello has to say,” Trustee Gary Hack said, interrupting Householder.

She responded, “Trustee Hack…you are not recognized.”

Rocha’s internet feed then resumed.

“Looks like the power is back on,” Householder said.

“No, the power is not on, yet,” Rocha responded.

“Are you safe?” Lewis asked. “It looks like the lights are out at your house.”

He then offered to go over to her house to assist her, if necessary.

Rocha tried to speak but her internet feed was sporadic, so Householder suggested Rocha call in to participate in the remainder of the meeting which she did.

Later in the meeting, but not during Item 10, Rocha made a motion to remove Householder as board president. Hack seconded the motion, but it failed on a 2-3 vote. Rocha then pressed the board president to place the vote to remove her from that position on the next regular meeting agenda in two weeks. Householder said she would put it on a future agenda but did not give a specific date.

Former Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen was asked how can the board president control placing on the agenda an item for a vote on their removal from their position? Isn’t submitting the item through the board vice president the proper channel? He responded, “Mary or any of the trustees can bring the item back to the agenda, tonight. It would probably require a second and vote by the board. That sounds right, going through the vice president. But things are different between the city council and school board.”

Points of Order By Elected Members Must Be Recognized

According to Robert’s Rules of Order any member who notices a breach of the rules has a right to call immediate attention to it and insist that the rules be enforced by raising a point of order. A point of order can interrupt a speaker who has the floor, doesn’t need to be seconded, isn’t debatable, can’t be amended, is decided by the chair, and can’t be reconsidered. The chair generally states, without discussion, his or her ruling on the point of order. However, the ruling may be appealed and the chair, if in doubt, may refer the decision to the body for a vote.

In addition, when asked if points of order must be recognized by the chair of a meeting, Simonsen replied, “yes.” He also said that only elected members can make a point of order, and that the superintendent and other district staff cannot.

Questions on Procedure, Authority and Agenda Approval

During the meeting, an email request was sent to Anello to “please provide either the board’s or state Board of Education policy and procedure for removing the president from that position, and placing the vote on a meeting agenda, or the rule in Robert’s Rules of Order that governs such an action.”

In addition, she was asked, “is the proper procedure to go through the board VP to prevent the president from keeping it from ever being placed on the agenda?” and “does the board president have the authority to unilaterally pull an item from an agenda that has already been publicly noticed?”

A response on those questions from the superintendent is not expected until sometime on Thursday.

Lewis Denies Rocha Submitted Removal Item Through Him

When asked if Rocha submitted her agenda item to remove Householder as board president through him, Lewis said, “No. Mary told me she was going to bring it up during the special meeting on Thursday night but didn’t. I received a phone call that day from Mary Rocha that she will bring up the matter during the special board meeting and when that didn’t happen, I thought would come up at a later date.”

However, he received a copy of the draft agenda for Wednesday’s meeting and participated in the Webex agenda review meeting last Wednesday, Sept. 1.

“I don’t approve agendas. My role in the agenda planning meetings is to offer support and ask clarification questions,” he explained. “In general, during the meetings, some areas we go over with a fine-tooth comb and other areas we don’t. I didn’t catch Mary’s request was on the draft agenda.”

Asked why he didn’t speak up, last night, he said, “based on my understanding of board policy as presented by President Householder she had the authority to remove the item. And I didn’t have the time to go research it during the meeting.”

When asked what the procedure is to place the item for removing the board president on the agenda, and shouldn’t it be done through the vice president to prevent the president from keeping it off the agenda he responded, “We need to review board policy on that. I’m not sure exactly what that is. So, we will have to go back and look.”

Householder Approved Meeting Agenda Before Public Notification

However, it is clear that Householder both reviewed and approved Wednesday night’s board meeting agenda before it was publicly noticed.

Additional questions were emailed to both Householder and Anello Thursday morning asking if the school board meeting agendas get sent to Householder as drafts for review and final approval before being posted on the district’s website and sent out to the public by district staff? And if so, did that happen last week for Wednesday night’s meeting?

In response, Anello shared the email district staff sent to Householder on Wednesday, Sept. 1 with copies of draft agendas for both last Thursday’s special meeting and Wednesday night’s meeting for her to review and approve in time for the agenda review meeting later that day. 9.8.2021 RBOE Agenda – Simple DRAFT     9.8.2021 RBOE Agenda – Simple – posted on AUSD website

From: Kellie Cavallaro
Sent: Wednesday, September 1, 2021 11:45 AM
To: Ellie Householder <EllieHouseholder@antiochschools.net>; Clyde Lewis <ClydeLewis@antiochschools.net>; Dr. Clyde Lewis, Jr. <clydelew@gmail.com>; Stephanie Anello <StephanieAnello@antiochschools.net>; Jessica Romeo <JessicaRomeo@antiochschools.net>
Subject: agendas for today’s agenda review meeting

Attached are the agendas for the 9/2/21 Special Board Meeting and the 9/8/21 Regular Board Meeting for review at today’s meeting.

Thanks,

Kellie

Kellie Cavallaro

Senior Executive Assistant/Antioch Unified School District

Email from AUSD staff to Board President Householder on Sept. 1, 2021 with the Sept. 8, 2021 draft meeting agenda attached.

Additional questions were emailed to Householder early Thursday afternoon asking, “Did you approve the agenda for the Sept. 8 meeting during your agenda review meeting before it was publicly noticed? It appears you must have at least reviewed it since the final agenda includes three additional items, 10.F., G. and H. requested by you that weren’t part of the draft agenda. And if you did approve the agenda, did you see Item 10.E. during your agenda review meeting prior to approval?”

Anello was then asked “if President Householder responded via email approving the two agendas before public notification? If so, can you please provide that/those email(s)? Or did she do it by phone?”

In response, an email showing details of the Webex-held agenda review meeting was provided by Cavallaro.

“Below are two images. The first is a screenshot of the Webex record of who attended the Agenda Review meeting and the second is a screenshot of the email I sent to everyone prior to the meeting with the link to the meeting. (One AUSD WebEx login is Superintendent Anello and the other is me. The Caller was Dr. Lewis who initially joined by phone and then he switched to a computer during the meeting.”

09-01-21 AUSD agenda review Webex meeting details.

09-01-21 email with Webex link for AUSD agenda review meeting.

However, that doesn’t provide proof that Householder approved the agenda before it was publicly notified. An additional question was sent to both Anello and Cavallaro asking, “Was that given by her during the Webex discussion?”

Anello responded, “She did not oppose or object to the item as presented.”

Householder has yet to respond to any of the questions emailed to her.

Please check back later with any updates to this report.

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the attachments to this post:


09-01-21 AUSD agenda review Webex mtg details


09-01-21 email with Webex link for AUSD agenda review mtg

9.8.2021 RBOE Agenda - Simple - posted on AUSD website
9.8.2021 RBOE Agenda – Simple – posted on AUSD website

9.8.2021 RBOE Agenda - Simple DRAFT
9.8.2021 RBOE Agenda – Simple DRAFT


Email AUSD staff to EHouseholder 090821draft mtg agenda


AUSD Board mtg 09-08-21


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