CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — The process to fill the vacant seat on the Carmel Clay School Board took place without an audience on Monday night. The only people allowed in the room were school board members, the finalists for the open position and reporters.
The decision to make the meeting a livestream-only event was announced last week after board members said they were not able to get work done because of the disruptive behavior from the community. Superintendent Michael Beresford said the meetings will be that way as long as they have to be.
“It’s unfortunate — it’s sad we have to do this, but at the same time, we were able to get important work done like these interviews,” said Beresford.
Last week, the board had to stop the meeting because members claim an outside group began booing and name-calling. Beresford said disruptions have been common for districts across the country and he can’t say for sure when the public will be allowed back in the building.
“That’s something we will have to evaluate moving forward, because we have to do the business of the school and the school district, and the board has legal requirements that they have to fulfill,” said Beresford.
Parent Mitchell Thomas sees his point.
“If you can’t do what you’re there to do, then you have to set some guidance in place,” said Thomas.
His kids are in a different school system in Carmel, but he’s heard about the meetings. He said while he sympathizes with the district, he agrees with parents who think the move was too extreme.
“I think that we should always have representation and we should be able to speak our minds. If that is being shut off, I think that is a problem,” said Thomas.
The board is defending its decision. News 8 was not allowed to talk to any members, and the district defaulted to its statement from last week.
It was a message consisting of several paragraphs, one of which said that at the last meeting there were four instances for public comments in the agenda, but parents were interruptive throughout the proceedings.
“It’s just sad and I hope we can get back to the way we were — where we’re working together to make sure our kids have a quality education,” said Beresford.
Monday’s meeting was a special session that will be followed by another Tuesday to announce and vote on the new board member. The meeting was streamed live, but the board said it will regularly reevaluate the need to stream.