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Moton board discusses water damage at St. James Major church building

The board that oversees Robert Russa Moton Charter School discussed the need to repair one of its buildings and other administrative matters at its March meeting before going into an executive session that appears to have violated state Open Meetings Law.

Moton uses a building at  St. James Major Catholic Church, next to the school, for some of its classes. Principal and school CEO Paulette P. Bruno said the St. James Major building sustained water damage to its roof and interior some time ago.

“It can’t be our fault. It was leaking when we got here,” Bruno said as she presented the board with copies of photos of the damage.

Though the roof was repaired, the interior of the building still has large holes and presents a safety hazard, she said. The only repair that had been made inside was the removal of a light fixture that Bruno said had filled with water and was hanging by its wiring.

Bruno said the school plans to gradually increase its enrollment, though administrators haven’t acted on any plans due to continuing facilities problems.

The board also is considering cutting Moton’s pre-kindergarten program because the school doesn’t receive state funding to support it.

Bruno discussed this year’s standardized tests, which had just started. She said only two students were unable to finish their exams the initial day of testing and were given an “open-ended math test.”

Board member Barbara Major provided a brief finance report that briefly touched on Title I reimbursements. According to spreadsheets presented to the board, Moton stands to receive nearly $150,000 in federal Title I reimbursements.

The last item on the agenda was an executive session. The board unanimously voted to go into executive session, but no one provided a reason for the closed session. Nor did they ask for public comment before the vote. Both are required by law.

The board met behind closed doors for about 15 minutes, after which they adjourned the meeting.

Bruno referred The Lens to board President Victor Gordon when asked the purpose of the executive session. Gordon didn’t respond to The Lens’ emails.

Also at the March 19  meeting, the board approved the minutes of a prior meeting, which had the incorrect date. Those minutes state, “The Board went into Executive Session and discussed personnel matters.” The minutes don’t say who voted to go into the session — or that a vote occurred at all — which are required by law.

The March meeting was called to order just after 3 p.m. and was adjourned at 4:18 p.m. It was attended by the four current board members: Gordon, Major, Treasurer Frank Williams and Secretary Velta Simms.

The board’s next meeting is set for May 21.

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  • Ailuri

    If a school board (or the school itself) does something that is not legal- as this executive session seems to be- what are the potential repercussions?
    It seems like all the laws that govern charter schools aren’t enforceable- there’s no “charter school police” to punish them if they do something against the state laws they are supposed to follow.
    Can someone report them to the state board of education or superintendent of schools? Or does the state just not care and let the schools get away with whatever they want?
    I’m trying to figure out how this actually works…because following the law seems optional, not mandatory, (it’s certainly not the first time this month that charter schools have acted in opposition to what state law says they must) so why do they even follow any of the laws at all?
    There seems to be no clear, accessible way to hold school boards, individual schools, or the broader school systems (OPSB, RSD, etc) accountable for…well, for pretty much anything…

  • nickelndime

    MOTON is an OPSB-authorized (Type 3 conversion) charter school. So, if anyone were to have a complaint (such as the school having “possibly” violated Open-Meetings Law), the questioning party might have a “go at it” with the OPSB Deputy Superintendent of Charter Schools (d/b/a Kathleen Padian) and/or members of the OPSB. But that is almost laughable. CORRECTION: It is falling-off-of-your-chair and rolling-on-the-floor laughable. And as far as the State being a watchdog (!), well, it is doing what everyone else (including the feds) are doing: N O T H I N G. And BTW, what board members were absent, and was there a quorum present? The answer doesn’t really matter anyway. MOTON does want it wants. Not too long ago, the OPSB offically retracted its statement (i.e., apologized) that Moton had cheated on State tests and it (OPSB) had obtained at least one corroborated instance (of cheating, as determined by its internal investigation). Just before that, OPSB President, Nolan Marshall, II, was instrumental in helping to convince the rest of the board that MOTON should receive a new building under construction (ground breaking). So, let’s just keep rewarding the bad behavior of boards and administrators, because it appears to WORK!