The opening of today's AdvancED accreditation discussion turned into barb trading between Wake County school board members Ron Margiotta and Debra Goldman with each accusing the other of being "condescending."
Today's meeting, which is now in closed session, opened with a 5-2 vote to reject the agenda. Goldman voted with the Democrats.
Goldman's explanation was that as board vice chair she should have been consulted beforehand by Margiotta, the board chair, about what the closed session would be about. She objected to the agenda only saying going into closed session to protect attorney-client privilege.
School board attorney Ann Majestic said they were going into closed session to discuss the board's legal relationship with AdvancED. Margiotta added that there's the possibility the accreditation review could in time result in legal suits.
School board member Keith Sutton said it would be helpful to lay out the plan for what will be discussed in closed session.
Margiotta said he intended a very brief closed session
School board attorney Jonathan Blumberg added that they would also discus the investigation by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.
Sutton asked if they could keep the OCR and AdvancED discussions separate. School board member John Tedesco chimed in that they're not as separate as they appear.
Goldman said it would be very helpful to know what they were coming in to discuss. This prompted Margiotta to respond that claiming not to know the purpose of the closed session is a "little difficult to understand" considering that the agenda includes a public hearing and possible vote on AdvancED.
Goldman pointed to how the board agenda doesn't specify what the closed session topics will be about. But Margiotta said Goldman should be able to figure out what it will be about.
"Your condescending comments are not appreciated," Goldman told Margiotta.
"Your condescending comments are not appreciated either," Margiotta fired back at her.
Goldman, who made a motion to discuss AdvancED in open session, was seconded by board member Anne McLaurin.
Sutton said he would be okay going into closed session if they would get information from the attorneys that would help them make their decision.
An annoyed Margiotta said they might as well discuss OCR in open session as well, prompting Goldman to point out that she had only mentioned discussing AdvancED in public.
School board member Carolyn Morrison asked why the public couldn't hear the discussion since they're the ones who are paying the lawyers.
Majestic said the closed-session discussion would be "very narrow."
Sutton said he respectfully asks Goldman to drop the motion. Margiotta added that the board discussion about AdvancED would be in public as well after the public hearing and before the vote.
The alternate motion from Goldman, which was unanimously passed, said they'd go into closed session to discuss AdvancED and the OCR complaint.
Tedesco couldn't resist getting in the last word after the vote.
"It’s what we were going to do in the first place," Tedesco said.
Only one person, Diana Young-Paiva, has signed up for public comment.