We were disappointed by the treatment shown Marissa Galeoti, the parent of a fifth grade student in the East Liverpool School District, during Monday's school board meeting.
It seems Galeoti attended the meeting wanting to discuss a school-related issue with those whom we believe were placed on the board as a voice of the people.
After all, this five-member board of education - Richard Wolf, Scott Dieringer, Janice Martin, Larry Walton and Robert Estell - are elected by district voters. It is our understanding that they act in the best interest of our children. It's a trust we put forth by selecting them on election day.
However, Galeoti, who's issue is with the lunch period and her belief that more time is needed for students to eat, was quickly brushed off by Wolf.
The veteran board member interrupted Galeoti, according to news accounts, and then informed her she first must contact the district superintendent prior to her being permitted to bring any school-related matters to the board.
That just doesn't make sense to us.
According to Galeoti, she spoke with the school principal and the situation "wasn't resolved to my satisfaction," so she brought the matter to a higher authority - the board of education.
What we can't understand is why Wolfe and the other members didn't simply allow Galeoti to speak, listen to her concerns and then guide her in the proper direction.
They did not need to make any decisions. They actually didn't need to make any comment regarding the issue. They simply could have listened to a parent's concerns.
Instead it seems a "we're not interested" attitude was used and she was shown the door. A "thanks, but no thanks" from board members.
In a section found on the district website titled "School Board Governance and Operations," we find no mention of a chain of command in order to speak before the board.
We read that this board "may choose to not allow (a) period of public participation," and we read the requirement that says those wishing to speak must be "residents of this District, an employee of this District, or a representative of employees of the District."
It also tells us those wishing to address the board must complete "a form identifying themselves and the topic(s) they wish to address." Plus we learn there is a limit of 5 minutes per speaker and 30 minutes overall for public participation.
There also is a paragraph that reads the "the presiding officer may interrupt, warn or terminate a speaker's statement when the statement is too lengthy, personally directed, abusive, obscene or irrelevant."
It's our understanding that Wolf was not the "presiding officer" in this case (Martin is president and Estell the vice president), so he had no authority, even if he believed the subject matter fell under the term "irrelevant."
Again, we find no reference to a chain of command, although we do find it interesting that an organizational chart available on the website shows "Citizens" appearing above the "Board of Education."
Seems odd considering the treatment shown.
We can only hope Superintendent James Herring, who told Galeoti he'd speak with her following the meeting, showed more interest in her situation than did the board.