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Wednesday  •  December 18, 2019

HCPSS Redistricting Ratification Vote – Part 1

By Steven Keller

On December 17, the BOE held a ‘ratification vote’ on the controversial Clemens Crossing redistricting vote that occurred on November 21, 2019, in which the vote initially failed 3-4 and then was overturned 4-3 after a sudden and seemingly illegal recess by the Board. Background on that vote and the ensuing controversy can be found here


A while later in that meeting, Chair Mavis Ellis issued the following statement regarding the recess, claiming that the Board did not meet in administrative capacity:

Prior to the actual ratification vote during the December 17, 2019 meeting, newly renewed BOE Chair Ellis read a statement on behalf of the whole Board that she claimed was intended to give accurate background on what had occurred during the recess after the failed Clemens Crossing polygon vote:

The statement given seems to directly contradict the statement that she made on November 21 about the Board not meeting in administrative capacity. Here are some choice quotes:


“During the recess, Board members, at different points and at different times, went into the Caucus room to look at data and/or figure out what to do……… the Caucus room, one member said out loud something to the effect of “Now what are we going to do?” …..another spontaneously responded, “The whole plan for that area falls apart” “

“There was no real discussion, but spontaneous comments were made by different members, and I think that there was a little question whether there was a quorum in the planning room for all or part of the brief exchange that may have impact Miss Coombs’ decision to request reconsideration of the vote.”


Note that when she mentions the question about whether there was a quorum during the “recess”, she never answers the question! Yes, members of the community have raised that question, because there is good reason to believe that they indeed may have had a quorum during the “recess”. Ellis never denies this concern throughout the statement.


Also note that she repeatedly refers to paraphrased quotes from the closed meeting (OMA violation recess) as ‘spontaneous comments’ and explicitly states: “There was no discussion, but ‘spontaneous comments’ were made by different members”. This is a legal attempt at deflection from the violation that occurred. There is an extremely high likelihood that her statement that “There was no discussion” is 100% false. It would be interesting to know what her definition of the word “discussion” is.


Additionally, BOE member Christina Delmont-Small subsequently raised serious concern that the statement which Chair Ellis had read on behalf of the entire Board hadn’t actually been sent to the other Board members and hadn’t received their approvalBOE members Christina Delmont-Small, Chao Wu, and Vice Chair Vicky Cutroneo all expressed concern that the statement read by Chair Ellis did not accurately describe the events that took place during the recess. Some background on what we believe occurred behind closed doors can be found here


The statement made by Chair Ellis last night (admittedly written FOR her, by a legal team, and not BY her or any other Board members) seemingly was an attempt to protect the plan from injunction by effectively admitting to the Open Meetings Act violation and claiming that it was not done with willful intent. This is a claim that will be seriously contested in court over the next few months, particularly considering that the statement made on behalf of the entire Board was not shared with all Board members prior to it being read and considering that other members of the Board challenged its veracity.

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