Wake County Schools

Advice to Wake school board: If in doubt, don't text

Posted October 20, 2010

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— Message to Wake County Board of Education members: Texting the chairman if you can't hold it during a meeting is OK. If you have a comment about an issue, however, say it, don't text it.

At Tuesday's board work session, attorney Ann Majestic told members that the law is not completely clear on what is a public matter and what is not in the wispy, here-now, gone-later world of text messages, but she had some clear advice after getting questions about notes and texting.

On texting, it has replaced "the old-fashioned way" of passing notes during a meeting, the attorney told her clients. Texts could constitute "deliberations" that the board is required to hold in public, and, "That gives me concern," Majestic said.

Open meetings are supposed to let the public see the board's work, she said. She added, however, that notes between members such as "I'm hungry" or "bathroom break" are probably not important, bringing some laughter.

"I get a lot of those!" Chairman Ron Margiotta said.

"Leave your phone off the table. Turn the darned thing off," member Kevin Hill said.

Just as Majestic was beginning her lesson Tuesday, a cell phone somewhere in the committee room was ringing, bringing laughter and making her point about how common cell communications have become.

Majestic said there is no law from court cases in North Carolina about whether elected officials' notes made as personal memory aids are public documents. However, cases from other states "suggest that they are not," she said.

"We don't have an absolute answer in North Carolina," Majestic said, but the UNC School of Government has advised local elected officials that personal notes probably are not public record.

Majestic said that information on laptop computers can be retrieved, and e-mails about board business are public. She has found in other instances, however, that phone companies say text messages cannot be retrieved from their computers if they have been deleted from the user's phone, and that presents a problem about records, especially on members' private phones rather than district-supplied devices.

"When you are at the board table, the benchmark should be that it is public," Majestic said. Messages between members on computer instant-messaging systems or by phone texts "are something we should avoid," she said.

Majestic also reminded the board that she had advised that any board business covered in private-account e-mails should be forwarded to their school board e-mail accounts to assure that it is captured as a public document.


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  • YourMom Oct 21, 2010

    Superman: you worked in school finance for 25 years? Director of what - mopping the floors? Your posts hardlly make any sense and you have horrible grammar. If you had been in a role that actually made decisions... well maybe that's part of the reason things are messed up. Maybe you read my first post to you - but you certainly didn't understand it. I wasn't talking about financing -- I wanted to know why you are supporting the belief that nonwhite students can't do as well in school as white. Your words: "the low performing schools-- ie. non-white"

  • com_mon_sents Oct 20, 2010

    whitetiger....what lessons are they teaching kids? The lessons that kids are getting this day and time, is that they do not see the difference in being a child and being an adult. Don't lump the teachers in that group. A child/student has to learn what is acceptable and what's not. If they can't have their phones at school, then as parents you enforce that. You lost me on the idea since kids can't then other school officals..teachers..principals...etc, shouldn't bring their phones. That's a load of cr^p and you know it. The teacher is the adult at their workplace...just like you. If you think teachers shouldn't have their cell phones with them at school, you are also saying that every other adult in the working community should follow the same guidlines. Are you saying that your boss should do that to you too. I'm sure you don't, I don't think that is right...but don't get off and slam the teacher.

  • Hey yuall Oct 20, 2010

    You're sick mshood7...get a life!

  • FedUpAmerican Oct 20, 2010

    Who are we kidding anyway.... we all know the board members, or at least 3 or 4 of them, talk about public business outside there public meetings...

  • FedUpAmerican Oct 20, 2010

    Texts aren't the problem... hiding the texts is! I don't care if they text... but it should be public record...
    Makes me wonder what was being text????? Hmmmm..

  • andy2 Oct 20, 2010

    injameswetrust2003 - I care if they are texting during the meeting. If it has to do with the public business then why text. I never look at my boss and say "hang on why I tell my wife something". This texting is line with the illegal meeting they had right after the election. I think it stinks.

  • mshood7 Oct 20, 2010

    I have never liked "selective social engineering' and cannot believe that we still cling to this mask of govt to socially engineer our children. If we as parents and educators do not stop this silly chrarade of pretending concern more for diverstiy than education our children then we deserve the shat this has been reigning down on our education system since the Obama admin. had been trying to gain TOTAL control of America's education system just like every other SOCIALIST AGENDA THEY HAVE PASSED OFF ON THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. THROW THES BUMS OUT ON THEIR CONTROLLING FAT ARASES. VOTE ON NOVEMBER 2!

  • shortcake53 Oct 20, 2010

    Good grief,. with all they have to work on, THIS is what they are talking about?? Psst..... forget the stupid phones, focus on our kids!

  • superman Oct 20, 2010

    adderd--I am a retired School Finance Director. What is your background in school finance? I worked in school finance for over 25 years.

  • superman Oct 20, 2010

    adderd-- the federal money is intended to go to students whose parents are low income which is for disadvantaged. Usually the same ones that qualify for the free lunch. How many of you that are against busing for diversity actually have your child bused for that reason. Me thinks you against diversity busing cause you dont like the students being bused to your childs school. Your concern for diversity is most heart warming and heart felt especially since your child is not one that is being bused.