MAY 13, 2005
A special board meeting of the Maricopa County Community College District Governing Board was scheduled to be held at 7:30 a.m. at the District Support Services Center, 2411 West 14th Street, Tempe, Arizona, pursuant to A.R.S. §38-431.02, notice having been duly given.
Don Campbell, President
Scott Crowley, Secretary
Ed Contreras, Member
Jerry Walker, Member
Linda Rosenthal, Member
Guest: Mary Ellen Walker
CALL TO ORDER
The special board meeting was called to order at 7:30 a.m.
The meeting was called together to have general dialogue on Governing Board protocols, communication, pronouncements by board members and discussion of matters of public concern to include:
- Maricopa non-discrimination policy
- The open meeting law
- Board member roles
- Governing Board Member code of conduct
- Use of electronic communication
Dr. Glasper called together everyone’s attention by stating that as board members and members of the Chancellor’s Executive Council got ready for the upcoming ethics retreat scheduled for May 15-17, he felt it an opportune time to review existing policies as well as the aforementioned agenda items. He reminded everyone that the members of Board were not intended to function as one single individual but rather as one consensus body.
The issue that has precipitated this session was the article in the Mesa Legend and the essence of the role of board members as they walk around campus and what their role may be. Once a board member or administrator steps onto the campus, they are a representative of the college and policies must be adhered to, i.e., non-discrimination, vision, mission, and values. Open sessions have been held the past year to discuss changes to the vision, mission, and values statements and recommendations will be presented.
Discussion was held regarding public/private roles of individuals. When participation by a board member is at some kind of college function, on premises or off-premise, or in attendance as a board member, what is said is fair game to be publicized and that is part of being in office. When someone becomes a public officer, it is hard to differentiate between private and public service. When does switch get turned off? The presumption is that it defaults to the role of being a board member or officer. Board policies have been adopted and Governing Board Members must adhere to guidelines adopted. With reference to its non-discrimination policy, Maricopa affirms that it will not discriminate towards anyone on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disabled, or veteran status. It was noted that sexual orientation was added to the policy in 1992.
Dr. Glasper remarked that he has had a number of discussions with Mr. Walker centered around questions related to policies which he felt needed to be discussed, amended, or changed, and have open dialogue. The role that Mr. Walker played on the 40th Anniversary celebration at Mesa Community College was as a board member.
Mr. Walker commented that he acknowledged that his attendance was in the role of board members, however, it was a private conversation. He stated he does not endorse homosexuality and it is perverse.
President Campbell remarked on issues of morality and immorality and that he remembered when interracial marriages were considered immoral, however, that is not the case anymore.
Dr. Glasper indicated that adherence to current board policy is at issue. If the Board wants to change policy, then conversation can to take place.
Dr. Campbell commented that the policies have been in place for some time and the Board will move forward with those policies. He also made reference that President Christiansen was concerned about a protest at Mesa Community College during the evening’s graduation ceremonies.
Mr. Contreras stated that graduation ceremonies were intended to be a respectful time for students and families and would recommend that Mr. Walker consider not being there so that it would take away from the ceremony. He commented that although Mr. Walker stated that it was too bad that someone would take a comment out of context, he went to the radio and press with his comments and therefore it was not just a personal statement. Mr. Walker commented that it was the press that approached him and that he did not seek the press out. Mr. Walker has a responsibility in this instance.
Mr. Crowley asked if Mr. Walker would like to review the policies.
Policy Governance Manager Teresa Toney asked what the implications were of a board member not following policies? Mr. Kushibab asked what constituted not following policies – free speech? He stated that it is possible for a board member to create a violation of policies and also contribute to a hostile environment. Policy prohibits discrimination and a hostile environment can be created when comments against a group of people are made. Statements voicing an opinion or voicing words against a protected class must not reflect board.
Mr. Walker expressed concern about the implications of a policy that would cause religious discrimination for those who held fundamental beliefs against homosexuality.
Dr. Campbell remarked that no one was trying to get Mr. Walker to change his mind but maybe it would have been better not to voice an opinion to one individual. Mr. Walker answered that he had no remorse over comments made and he asked for an apology.
Dr. Glasper asked when review of policies was scheduled and Ms. Toney answered that pre the board’s annual planning calendar they were due for review between now and August. Mrs. Rosenthal suggested that policies be looked at with an aim towards board understanding. She felt policies were not clear on conduct, i.e., only board chair speaks for board, need to clarify, affirm, or add to. Both Mrs. Rosenthal and Mr. Crowley agreed that signing off on policies might be a good practice. Mrs. Rosenthal also brought up that self-assessment might be a good practice in re-initiate. Dr. Glasper suggested that board meeting agendas, citizens’ interim, and public conduct be looked at. Mr. Contreras questioned what the board’s responsibilities were for upholding these opinions and what possibilities could occur to the District if it were sued for discrimination for lack of adherence to a policy. Does the Board have any responsibility to take action? The response was made that if three members agree, the policy would still exist. Board can take action to defend policy.
Mr. Contreras questioned what would be required if someone displayed displeasure against a group. Mr. Kushibab responded that free speech wins out. When it focuses on one individual or a group and it is pervasive, it is still protected by the courts as free speech. Dr. Glasper questioned if Mr. Walker plans to continue his comments and litigation comes about, could board be held responsible. Mr. Kushibab responded that if someone willfully creates a situation of non-adherence to policy, that board member acted out of scope and the board as a whole is not responsible. Dr. Campbell stated that voters have the right for recall.Dr. Glasper stated that this was not the body to discuss a recall. Mr. Walker noted that this Board did not have the legal authority to address it.
Citing a case that involved Yavapai Community College with reference to open meeting laws, Mr. Kushibab wanted to instill caution that if e-mails among board members were distributed on certain issues, these could be constituted as meetings and were in violation of open meeting laws. Meetings can also be conducted via e-mail and telephonically and reminded board members that if three or more participate, this constituted a majority and notices would need to be posted. It was not necessary to post attendance at breakfasts, lunches, or social hours. Ms. Toney also cautioned that while e-mail communications served as a good resource to monitor the pulse of the organization, it was a public resource and not a venue to display personal responses or to be used as a public forum. Our distribution lists have the potential to reach more than 7,600 people. She encouraged the use of citizen’s interim as a way to have discussion with the Board and use the e-mail system for MCCCD business only. There is a need to educate employees on their responsibility as public employees.
The meeting adjourned at 9:10 a.m.
Governing Board Secretary