BREAUX BRIDGE — The St. Martin Parish School Board discussed procedure Wednesday at the request of member Floyd Knott, who said he was defending a peer he felt was not allowed to ask appropriate questions before voting on an issue at the October meeting.
Knott also directed administrative secretary Wynde Frederick to compile for the next meeting all board policies addressing members’ discussion rights.
The issue stemmed from the October meeting, when board member Aaron Flegeance was not allowed to ask questions concerning an issue right before the vote was taken.
Knott said Robert’s Rules of Order should be followed, and Flegeance had a right to question an agenda item before the vote was taken.
“The board members end the debate, not the presiding officer,” he said, referring to Board President James Blanchard.
Knott also said members of the public addressing the board were limited to five minutes, but this does not apply to board members, who are allowed 10 minutes to discuss matters.
Flegeance agreed with Knott and said members had a right to fully understand the issues by discussing them before making a vote.
“If I am about to vote, questions should be answered before the vote,” he said. “If there is something in doubt, we can not vote intelligently.”
Blanchard, responding to Knott and Flegeance, said Robert’s Rules was “just a guide” and limits were placed on discussion to prevent meetings from “going to 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning.”
“That is why I limited the discussion, and I will follow the board’s wishes,” Blanchard said, adding he was following policy passed by the board and the issue was brought up at several meetings and “did not need to be discussed a third time.”
He then suggested the board change its policy if it did not like the policy implementation.
Member Richard Potier said the policy held little weight compared to the importance of board members understanding issues and having the ability to properly represent their districts.
“You cannot stop us from speaking because we are elected officials,” he said. “A board member has to be heard, regardless of (procedure).”
No action was taken, but Knott then directed Frederick to compile all relevant procedures and policies to be discussed at future meetings.