Ocean School Board Emphasizes Ethics and Confidentiality in Meeting

In a recent meeting of the Ocean School Board, a comprehensive presentation by board attorney Mr. Lester Taylor outlined the critical importance of ethics and confidentiality for board members. The presentation served as a reminder and an update on the code of ethics that board members must annually review, underscoring the complexities of conflicts of interest, particularly with family members. The conversation also covered the implications of money in local school board elections, the ethical considerations surrounding gifts, and the necessity of following the “advice of counsel” defense in cases of potential ethical violations.

Taylor stressed the significance of maintaining confidentiality in communications between board members. He warned against using the “reply all” function in emails, which could trigger a quorum and consequently turn the email chain into a public record subject to disclosure under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA). He advised members to conduct board business through their school district email accounts to ensure proper record-keeping and compliance with public records laws. The presentation also touched on the dangers of making public statements that could be misconstrued as board positions, especially on social media, and the importance of distinguishing between personal opinions and official statements.

During the meeting, the School Business Administrator reminded members of the requirement to review the code of ethics annually and requested their signatures to confirm compliance.

The superintendent’s report was another focal point of the meeting, highlighting recent and upcoming district events, such as the youth art show, the Intermediate School play “Mean Girls Jr.,” and the high school’s impending performance. The superintendent took the opportunity to express pride in the district’s alumni, citing their achievements and attributing their success to their experiences and teachers within the district. Upcoming events like the OFASA School Glow Dance, the student and staff basketball game, and the districtwide Innovation Night were also announced, along with an invitation to families to engage in the Multilingual Learner Family Fun Night.

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Public comments featured concerns from Jonathan Shuman regarding the vetting process for job opportunities and applications within the district, focusing on merit, inclusivity, diversity, and accommodations for individuals with disabilities. Due to a policy change, the board did not respond directly during the meeting but instead directed Shuman to email these inquiries to the superintendent. Alex Hayes, another commenter, suggested increased publicity for alumni achievements and expressed disappointment over the board’s absence at an eighth-grade dialogue event due to the concurrent meeting. Hayes’s comment also touched on concerns regarding the delay in approving out-of-district placements.

The budget was another topic of discussion, with board members debating over a proposed 2.86% increase in the tax levy. Concerns were voiced about the impact of the S2 funding formula and the necessity for community involvement in advocating for fair funding from the state. The approval of various action items, including minutes, personnel matters, and financial management, followed the discussion.

The meeting also delved into the allocation of Stabilization Aid, with some board members expressing disappointment at the amount received and calling for further discussion on the criteria used for determining aid distribution. Changes in policies related to equity in education were discussed, particularly the removal of a list of protected categories in favor of a reference to relevant state regulation. The board approved school field trips and discussed curricular writing and professional development for staff. Public comments also brought up the idea of parent fundraising for field trips and a request for increased transparency regarding potential budget cuts.

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Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Superintendent:
Kelly Weldon
School Board Officials:
Denise Parlamas, John McCarthy, Gerard Dalton, Caitlin Dam, Irene Gilman, Amy McGovern, Brian Schneider, GraceAnne Talarico, Jeffrey Weinstein, Kelly Weldon (Superintendent of Schools)

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