BISD adjusts board policy; Trustees review conduct rules at meeting - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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BISD adjusts board policy; Trustees review conduct rules at meeting

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Posted: Tuesday, October 8, 2019 8:30 pm

The Brownsville Independent School District Board of Trustees has updated the Board Standard Operating Procedures Manual under which it conducts school board business.

At a special called meeting Tuesday, the board agreed to a series of changes to fine-tune the manual to reflect current realities. The changes were in addition to those approved last week by the board.

Meanwhile, action on a complaint by a parent about board member Erasmo Castro’s public actions was delayed until a special called board meeting scheduled for Oct. 21, which Castro’s attorney Star Jones requested.

The board discussed and made changes to the standard operating procedures, adding a page to the document covering the response if a board member violates the policy on a trustee going to a school unannounced and unescorted as approved last week.

“You have to say to them ‘you’re not following the rules, you’re essentially a trespasser,’” Trustee Philip Cowen said. “That’s the legal. It’s happened once in the state of Texas, in Dallas.”

Changes to the manual cover more than just board members’ presence on school campuses.

“It’s us governing ourselves. These are our operating rules and procedures,” Cowen said during the meeting.

The trustees reviewed the manual page by page and agreed to the changes before unanimously approving the document. They include:

>> A public audience opportunity will be available at all meetings, regular, special called, committee meetings and workshops.

>> Placing an item on the agenda for a board meeting will require the item in writing from the originator and one additional board member.

>> On board conduct, “An individual board member shall not, in public or in private, nor on social media, demean, attack, disparage or speak ill of the district or another board member or members.”

>> Board members who share any BISD event, news or pictures “shall give proper credit to the district source and shall not block any member of the public on their private social media page.”

Board President Minerva Peña said this item concerns reposting items from the BISD Facebook page. She said the aim is to make sure BISD is credited for content taken from its pages.

Castro suggested the district and individual schools add a watermark to pictures they post to ensure they receive credit.

Another item concerned guidelines for receiving anonymous correspondence.

“Some of the most vile correspondence I have ever received in my life was through BISD, essentially mail attacking our employees,” Cowen said, referring to things that happened in the past.

“ f somebody wants to sends that kind of a letter they can put their name on it and send it to us and we’ll know who sent it. But an envelope with no name on it, and I’ve seen it on six or seven occasions,” is different, he said.

“I don’t think we need to tweak this policy, but we should follow it,” he said, adding that three times he took the envelope to the police chief to check for fingerprints the content was so objectionable.

Board attorney Baltazar Salazar said the policy amounts to the same thing as when a board member receives a call from a parent.

“They tell the superintendent about it and then he’s the gatekeeper and he decides what to do about it.”

glong@brownsvilleherald.com

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