Incoming Superintendent Peter Licata got a first taste of the dysfunction of the Broward County School District after only three of nine School Board members showed up to approve his contract.
Three board members — Chairwoman Lori Alhadeff, Vice Chairwoman Debbi Hixon and Nora Rupert — are out of the country and were on the phone. But the absence of three others — Torey Alston, Daniel Foganholi and Brenda Fam — was unexpected, some board members said.
State law says that a majority, which would be five in this case, must be physically present to have the required quorum.
“This is not how you run a mature organization and it is not the will of the school board to have done what we did today,” Board member Allen Zeman said after the meeting. Zeman and board members Sarah Leonardi and Jeff Holness were the only three in attendance.
The meeting was scheduled to start at 9 a.m. but Interim Superintendent Earlean Smiley abruptly canceled it due to the lack of quorum. No date was set to reschedule it.
Smiley said after the meeting she had heard two days ago that Alston would be not be attending, but didn’t know the reason.
“We still had five, so there was no sense of urgency.”
Then at 7:09 a.m., Foganoli’s secretary sent an email to board members saying, “Mr. Foganholi is out of town and will not be able to attend today’s Board meeting or participate in the vote.”
Fam told the Sun Sentinel she is recovering from surgery but was on standby.
“Poor planning. Three people away and one recovering from pre-planned surgery,” she said. “I am recuperating from surgery. I called in to appear by phone. If a fourth board member had arrived, my husband was on standby to drive me to make quorum.”
Licata was chosen 7-2 over two other finalists on June 15, with Alston and Fam dissenting. Foganholi supported him but said earlier in the meeting he wasn’t happy with any of the finalists and encouraged the board to keep Smiley longer.
Smiley, who stepped out of retirement to take the interim job, was scheduled to leave after Thursday but by contract must stay on until a new superintendent is in place.
“My job now.is to make sure that Dr. Licata takes his rightful place as soon as possible so that I can go about the business of retirement,” she said.
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