March 24, 2014

Rock Hill school board OKs controversial organization policy

The Rock Hill school board Monday night barred school employees from holding office in any non-school-sponsored support organization.

The Rock Hill school board Monday night barred school employees from holding office in any non-school-sponsored support organization.

The policy states that district employees cannot serve as officers for an organization such as a booster club or parent-teacher organization and provides several reporting mandates for those organizations to the district.

The board’s 5-1 vote came after nearly a half-hour of discussion about how specific the policy would be and whether it would discourage parents from participating in these organizations.

Several parents from band booster organizations spoke against the policy. Many more had sent their comments to the board ahead of the meeting.

“My opinion is you need to vote it down tonight, simply because it’s not clear to the people who will be affected by it,” said Steve Crocker, president of Northwestern High School’s Band Boosters.

Crocker spoke specifically about the part of the policy that states district employees cannot hold office in the organizations. Without district employees serving as officers, there probably would be only be a handful of people willing to serve, he said, because so many employees are heavily involved in the booster organization.

Two other parents spoke to the “over-broadness” of the policy, maintaining that the board was overstepping its bounds by instituting more oversight of these organizations, which already are tightly regulated by the Internal Revenue Service because of their tax-exempt status as 501(c)3 organizations.

“I ask that you reject this policy and consider rewriting it,” said Rock Hill High School band parent Doug Walters.

The district has had guidelines stating school employees shouldn’t be organization officers who handled money, such as a president or treasurer, because of the possibility of a conflict of interest. A district auditor recommended the guidelines become official policies.

Board members Ginny Moe and Jane Sharp wanted to table the policy, asking for more information and to change the wording of the policy to make it more clear, but they were outvoted 4-2.

Tabling the policy simply to “wordsmith” it would be a waste of time, board chairman Jim Vining said, because the intent of the policy was the official recommendation of the administration and the district’s auditors.

“I have no problem tabling to improve the wording,” Vining said, but the provision barring school employees from holding office “is not a negotiable point.”

Moe cast the only vote against the policy, and board member Mildred Douglas was absent.

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