Awkward Duluth School Board Moment #5,109: A Point of Order

roberts_rules_of_orderThis clip features three-and-a-half productive minutes from the Nov. 9 Duluth Public Schools Human Resources and Business Committee Meeting.



about 6 years ago

So it looks like he wants to talk about Many Rivers Montessori, but it is not on the agenda for this kind of meeting.  So he invokes rules that do not apply to this kind of meeting.  People on the committee agree that the Robert's Rules he is invoking do not apply at the meeting.  He keeps invoking Robert's Rules anyway.  

So it's like if I go to a meeting at my local church, and when I don't like what they say I invoke Robert's Rules.  When other members of my church tell me that Robert's Rules are irrelevant at the church meeting, my response is to invoke more Robert's Rules by saying "point of order" and "I'd like to appeal the decision of the chair of this meeting."  Then other members of the congregation say that we need to get on with the meeting.

Am I missing something?

Paul Lundgren

about 6 years ago

Here is the video of the entire meeting.

The Business Committee agenda begins at the 23-minute mark with At-large Board Member Alanna Oswald reminding the committee of a request to move the Many Rivers Montessori item forward in the agenda. Business Committee Chair and District 3 Board Member Nora Sandstad denied the request, choosing to move forward with the agenda as it was laid out.

At 24:30 the committee moves forward with its agenda. The district's business director, Bill Hanson, speaks for slightly less than a minute before District 4 Board Member Art Johnston decides to repeat Oswald's request to alter the agenda and carries on by insisting Robert's Rules of Order allow him to raise a point of order and force the board members to vote in a committee meeting to overrule the chair and alter the agenda.

Many Rivers Montessori Head of School Mark Niedermier and Board of Trustees Chair John Kliewer show up on the agenda about a half hour later, at 56:50.


about 6 years ago

What a clown.

Paul Lundgren

about 6 years ago

It's a bit of a double-edged clown shoe ... er, more like raising the stakes on clownish behavior. Altering the agenda certainly seems like the polite and expedient thing for the committee chair to do. If there is a reason not to, stating the rationale and offering an apology instead of curtly saying "Let's get through the rest of it here" would be the best initial response. So it's easy to see what provoked Board Member Johnston.  His carrying on, however, only exacerbated the problem and quadrupled the hostility in the room.


about 6 years ago

So, I followed up with one of the members and inquired as to who was right, and was told that Art was correct about the Robert's Rules of Order.  I was offered, but did not accept, an email explaining why he was correct.

So, it may be a disturbance to the orderly fashion in which the meetings usually occur, however, his citing the Robert's Rules of Order was, allegedly, correct.

Paul Lundgren

about 6 years ago

According to Robert's Rules of Order, board members can raise a point of order if there is a "breach of rules," but in this case it's not clear there was a breach. In committee meetings there isn't a vote taken on the order of agenda items. If a member requests an item be moved forward on the agenda and the chair ignores the request, that isn't a breach of rules, it's just a decision ... even if it's an illogical and rude one.

If it were correct to raise a point of order, keep in mind the point of order isn't resolved by a vote anyway. A point of order is decided by the chair and cannot be reconsidered.

That's my understanding of it. Robert's Rules are complex and the extent they apply to any meeting can be subjective, so I expect someone to counter what I've written.

Leave a Comment

Only registered members can post a comment , Login / Register Here

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Read previous post:
Ian Alexy – “Misfits in Love” A song from Ian Alexy's new album Deserters, scheduled for release Dec. 16.