In this Dan Way column about the secrecy of closed door sessions of public bodies, Wake County school board member Deborah Prickett gets to the nut of the problem with the board”s new ethics policy, and with the lack of recordings of closed-door sessions. With no recordings for verification, who’s to say what was really said by whom? Supporters of the ethics policy say it’s about keeping the integrity of the school board intact. Those opposed say the policy is aimed at silencing members who don’t go along with the status quo — and at present, the Democratic Party view is the status quo on the Wake County school board.
“The minutes we take in those meetings behind closed doors are basically scrubbed by our attorney, so the public never really gets to know too much about what goes on. The meetings are not recorded,” except in the case of student disciplinary measures, Prickett said.
When reviewing minutes from closed meetings, “you don’t even know how people vote or anything,” she said. At times she has asked specifically for minutes to reflect something she said during the private discussions “and then they’re not in there because the minutes are so scrubbed.”
But wait, there’s more.
“Behind closed doors I have been asked to recuse myself from certain votes,” Prickett said. “I have not done that because I feel like my vote represents my district. It may not always represent my views.”
There are occasions when board members are asked to perform “thumbs-up, or straw votes, to let’s just see where we stand” before an official vote is taken, Prickett said.
“Those votes are never recorded,” she said.
“It’s really putting all of us in a precarious situation,” Prickett said.
Wow. It is well past time to require closed-door sessions to be recorded.