Parents upset after Brandywine school board meeting adjourns early

NILES, Mich. --- Tensions rise at Monday’s Brandywine School Board meeting and the meeting adjourned early.

Two members of the seven-person board were absent Monday and a quorum vote could not be reached to approve the agenda. The first motion led by Trustee Jessica Crouch to move the hearing of visitors to the beginning of the meeting was denied in a 2-3 vote.

Dozens of community members showed up for public comment some of them holding signs that read “Brandywine has spoken, RESIGN” directed at the four members of the school board affiliated with the We The Parents political group.

As the meeting continued, another motion was made to adopt the agenda as prepared.

In 3-2 affirmative vote, Superintendent Travis Walker indicates to Board President Thomas Payne that the board needs a majority vote of the members elected to move forward with the meeting. That would mean four votes in favor of adopting the agenda.

Payne proceeds with the meeting saying the majority vote wins and Walker continues to explain that the board can’t move forward without a quorum.

Payne adjourns the meeting without asking for a vote and was corrected by Walker and community members in the audience. Then, a motion was made and passed to adjourn the meeting.

The meeting was over shortly after the confusion in less than minutes. As Payne walked out of the meeting, several community members were shouting and waving signs at him that read, “RESIGN.”

One of those people was August Garritano, a Brandywine alumni.

“Immediately upon adjourning the meeting, the President quickly left. I think he did come back. And some of the board members left, some of them stayed. But they could have really shown that they care about what we have to say, by moving public comments to the start of the meeting anyway, when that was discussed, and brought up by Mrs. Crouch, but they didn't, and then they ended the meeting,” Garritano said. “They're not showing that they actually want to listen to the parents, to the teachers, to the students, to the administrators, their actions are that they are not interested in what we have to say. They're very hyper-focused on their political agenda. And that's just what's causing division."

Even after the meeting was adjourned, the public stayed behind to give their prepared public comments to the crowd who stuck around. Some of their concerns were about the February 13th decision by the board to suspend the addition of any future library material containing sexually explicit or violent text. Others who stayed to address the audience talked about what they called “real issues” plaguing Brandywine Schools such as a bus driver shortage, concerns that teachers will start resigning, and what they call the “political agenda” of the We The Parents affiliated school board members.

"I think Brandywine is an amazing school. You can look at our teachers, our administrators, our parents, our athletics, and our Arts. We are a very proud school,” Garritano said. “And we're obviously not going to back down. And we care deeply about this community. And I would hope that anyone who wants to come into our community and try to cause trouble that they will be met with opposition.”

The board meets next on March 13th.

NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect correct information. We apologize for the error. 

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