February 10, 2024
Tom Tolen / firstname.lastname@example.org
When the Brighton Board of Education meets in regular session on Monday, it will consider a motion to censure a member in what is called a, quote, “board member discipline” matter.
The motion pertains to Trustee Andy Storm loudly objecting at the Jan. 29th meeting to what was said to be “confidential” information regarding Title IX cases.
There are no penalties associated with what is being termed a “censure” motion, nor does any action resulting from such a motion prevent the censured member from speaking or voting. Rather, it’s considered more of a public reprimand and a formal statement of disapproval. Trustee John Conely supports Storm in his concerns, saying he “didn’t see any problems with what (Storm) said, adding, “I think he’s looking out for the best interests of the students.”
Historically in such cases, the censured member often responds by accusing the body of censuring the individual as a retaliatory act for their criticisms.
Board President Roger Myers, in responding to requests by WHMI for comment, said Saturday that he hopes the meeting Monday will be constructive. Myers said, “I just want to work together as a board. Hopefully, everybody will cool down and it will be a productive meeting with less acrimony.”
The issue came to a head at the meeting when Storm was critical of the board regarding a Title IX report prepared by a third party auditor. The board had voted in February of 2023 to hire an outside firm specializing in such matters to perform an audit over whether the district was conforming to best practices in Title IX matters or if that could be improved.
In a letter last month directed to Board President Roger Myers, the auditor said the audit did not find any evidence that the district intentionally did not comply with Title IX. Nor were there any “substantive Title IX violations”that would indicate serious liability by the district. Included in the letter were recommendations such as training in Title IX requirements for all district employees and better documentation.
The audit reports were requested by the board in response to two sexual assaults involving Brighton Area Schools students. One complaint was filed with the US Dept. of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, alleging that a female student was sexually assaulted by a male student in a high school bathroom in June of 2022, but that the district did nothing about it.
The other matter involved a Title IX case in which a female student alleged that in April of 2022 she was sexually assaulted on school grounds by a male student. She later recanted, saying the act was consensual, but her legal defense counsel alleged it was because of bullying as well as harassment by district officials. That was disputed by district administration, resulting in mediation between the two parties.
According to Conely, the audtor’s report is fine insofar as it goes, but leaves some unanswered questions. “I don’t think the report did its due diligence – it came up short,” he said.
Supt. Matt Outlaw was about to give a slide presentation on the auditor’s recommendations at the Jan. 29th meeting when a protracted debate erupted between Storm and Myers. Storm objected to what he repeatedly referred to as “Dr. Outlaw’s recommendations,” to which Myers responded by saying they were not Outlaw’s or his own, but rather, the auditor’s recommendations. Due to the extended discourse between the two parties — with each one interrupting the other — the report on the auditor’s recommendations was never presented and the board went on to other agenda items.
WHMI attempted to reach Storm for comment but he has not responded. The meeting Monday will be held in the board meeting room at the BECC Building on South Church St. in Brighton at 7 p.m.