HAGERSTOWN—Typically, votes on Washington County Public Schools personnel moves pass with little fanfare and take little time, even when they aren’t approved unanimously by the Board of Education.
During the board’s June 5 meeting, the measure was defeated by a 4-3 vote, and then passed by a 4-3 vote after the board took the unusual move of calling for a recess in the middle of a regular business meeting.
The seven board members retired to a conference room, where they met for more than 15 minutes in a closed session to try to resolve whatever obstacle prevented the personnel moves from being approved the first time.
Board member Donna Brightman was the one who changed her vote, allowing the personnel moves to be approved.
During a later discussion about the facilities master plan, Brightman had several questions, and at one point addressed the board president, saying, “I just took a bullet, so give me some latitude for this one.”
After the meeting, Brightman acknowledged that her bullet comment referred to her being the one to change her vote on the matter.
“I was being flip and probably inappropriate in saying that,” Brightman said.
The three board members who voted against personnel matters both times were Paul Bailey, Jacqueline Fischer and Karen Harshman.
None of them, nor Brightman, would say specifically what item or items among the personnel moves caused concern.
Harshman said there were a couple of things the board needed to clear up and questions she had. The board’s June 5 morning closed session was hurried because members had a lot of business to discuss, she said.
Brightman said her concern was about the process, not an individual, and that her concern had nothing to do with retirements on the list.
Asked if her concern was about one or more positions, Brightman said there was a domino effect because one move led to another.
The only moves on the personnel list that appear to involve a domino effect revolved around transfers for principal and assistant principal positions and moves affecting administrative interns.
Brightman would not say whether she was concerned about the principal and assistant principal moves.
“The process needs to be consistent and fair. I was assured of that, and that’s why I changed my vote,” Brightman said.
When asked why they voted against personnel moves, Bailey and Fischer at first said it was a personnel matter and referred questions to school system spokesman Richard Wright.
Bailey and Fischer elaborated on their votes.
“I just voted because I wasn’t completely happy with the package as a total,” Bailey said June 11.
“I just had more questions about the position and the person chosen, as I think some of my fellow board members did,” Fischer said Thursday.