What could have been a hotly debated confrontation among Onamia School Board members was averted May 6 after board member Georgianne Day made a motion to adjourn a special meeting after about two hours.
The motion was seconded by board member LaVerne Hanson. When taken to a vote, the board split. Hanson, Day, and board chair LeRoy “Whitey” Waytashek voted yes, and members Mary Kent and Leonard Marthe voted no. The motion passed.
The motion was made after a heated exchange between Marthe and Waytashek when Waytashek refused to recognize a motion made by Marthe and seconded by Kent. The motion was to evaluate the superintendent.
Waytashek refused the motion, saying it was redundant; the purpose of the meeting was to evaluate the superintendent. The special meeting, he said, was for the sole purpose of evaluating the superintendent, so the motion was invalid because it did nothing more than affirm what already had been decided. The agenda for the meeting listed one business item: “Evaluation of the Superintendent.”
When Waytashek refused the motion, Marthe asked, “What kind of crap are you trying to pull? Meeting after meeting, you pull this kind of sh*t,” and he accused Waytashek of acting on his personal whims.
“What kind of motion would you like?” Marthe then asked the chair.
“I’m not hear to tell you what kind of motion to make,” Waytashek retorted. Waytashek then asked for another motion, from any board member. In a silence that seemed much longer than the clock indicated, Day made the motion to adjourn.
Now back to the beginning.
The meeting began solemnly. Waytashek outlined the process for the evaluation of superintendent John Liapis, reading a portion from the School Board Association manual. Evaluation sheets were then handed to each board member to complete.
About 45 minutes later, the evaluations were completed by all board members. Waytashek was about to read the rating, which was to be compiled by clerk LaVerne Hanson.
Marthe asked if the evaluations should be made public or remain private. After discussion among themselves, the board agreed to keep the information on the evaluation sheets private information. Liapis agreed, when asked how he would like the information handled, that the information should be kept private.
The board decided that each board member would privately discuss their evaluation with the superintendent. After each of the current five school board members had done so, the information would be tallied and compiled by the chair. Those decisions were the unanimous agreement made by the board.
“That ends the meeting,” Waytashek said. “Can I have a motion to that effect?”
It was then tempers began to flare. “No, I’d like to discuss something publicly,” Marthe said.
Waytashek asked for a motion so discussion could be heard. Marthe made a motion to evaluate the superintendent. Kent seconded the motion, and Waytashek refused to recognize it for the reason already stated.
“I feel uncomfortable. The appraisal form should have been established in July so the man would have known how he was going to be appraised. Otherwise, everything is after the fact,” Waytashek said.
Day made the motion to adjourn the meeting, and the motion passed. The meeting was over.
But the tension in the room did not leave as soon as the meeting ended.
Day removed herself from the meeting table and sat at another table. Marthe walked to her and told her he was surprised by the motion. He insinuated that some intention that the motion was going to be made should have occurred before the motion was made.
The conflict, at the same time, continued between Waytashek and Marthe. Waytashek accused Marthe of “strong arming” Day. Marthe said he could strong arm anyone he wanted, anywhere he wanted. “Don’t try putting the arm on me,” Waytashek warned.
Sources close to the school board, who requested to remain unnamed, suggested that Marthe and Kent would like to see Liapis fired. The same source said that Hanson and Waytashek have been satisfied with Liapis’ job performance. Day, the source said, is considered a swing vote on the board, short one member due to Hanson’s recent resignation, but is considered to be more in favor of Liapis continuing in his position than having him fired.