Knockin' 'Em Dead

Here's how the Board of Education could raise money for St. Louis schools: Charge admission to its meetings

The Pledge of Allegiance

The line outside the door is beginning to swell as the fire marshal counts how many seats are left in the auditorium at Carr Lane Visual and Performing Arts Middle School on North Jefferson. "We can have fifteen more!" a police officer hollers. "Come on through," motions the security guard, who checks the bags of the last few people allowed through the metal detector gates.

Inside, the audience is raging.


"Go home!"

"Five million dollars!"

The familiar refrain resonates above the chorus of frenetic conversations about closed schools, pension funds and privatization.

And the October 14 meeting of the St. Louis Board of Education hasn't even started.

School board president Darnetta Clinkscale bangs her gavel. "It's time for the Pledge of Allegiance," she chides.

From the back of the mostly African-American crowd, someone shouts, "First we have to be one nation!"

Vincent P. Schoemehl Jr., the former three-term mayor who won a seat on the school board in April, is guzzling a Diet Coke and trying to keep his cool.

William V. Roberti, the high-priced interim superintendent, is staring down the audience. He may appear stiff in his navy-blue suit, but he's no softy. He retired from the U.S. Army Reserve as a colonel.

But just in case, the front of the stage is lined with security guards. St. Louis police officers are waiting in the back to haul off anyone who misbehaves. (A week earlier four people were arrested after a former school-district employee jumped onto a table and screamed in Roberti's face.)

A few awards are handed out, a couple of reports delivered, and then it's on to the 30-minute segment of tonight's meeting that has been set aside for public comment.

"You say the people who come to the board meetings are troublemakers. I'm an A student," scolds Ashley Parish-Nunley, an eighth grader at Compton Drew Middle School. "My bus stop has been moved three times. I have to stand and wait ten to twenty minutes for a bus that won't even show!"

The next speaker is Joe Clark Jr., a school-district plumbing supervisor. "This is about escalating costs, about money, about control, about power, and least of all, about the education of children!"

A buzzer rings, indicating Clark's allotted three minutes are up, but he's not stopping. The next speaker on the list, Ron Hollis, volunteers to give up his time so Clark can finish.

"That's not your discretion," snaps Schoemehl.

"I've been with this district for 33 years!" Hollis thunders. "You don't tell me about my discretion!"

"Let him speak! Let him speak!" the crowd roars in unison. Everyone rises to their feet.

Schoemehl throws up his hands. "We can't conduct a meeting like this! No one can hear!"

"This is embarrassing!" board member Amy Hilgemann shouts. She heaves her briefcase onto the table and bolts off the stage along with Roberti, Schoemehl and fellow board member Bob Archibald. Another board member, Ron Jackson, wrings his hands and smiles uneasily, as if he's unsure what to do.

"Shut it down! Shut it down!" the audience chants victoriously as board members Bill Haas and Rochell Moore smile smugly.

Clinkscale, who was elected to the school board in April along with a slate of three other candidates including Schoemehl, bangs her gavel, but no one is listening. Finally the mallet's wooden head flies off and rolls across the stage.

Tonight's meeting is over.

A History Lesson

The idea to run a slate of candidates to take over the St. Louis school board was hatched by Mayor Francis Slay's office, Civic Progress and the Black Leadership Roundtable, a group of prominent African-American businesspeople and civic leaders. With four seats open, Civic Progress, a coalition of the area's high-powered CEOs, raised more than $200,000 and the mayor's war chest kicked in $50,000 to ensure the victories of Schoemehl (president of Grand Center Inc.), Clinkscale (patient care director at BJC Healthcare Systems and a member of the Roundtable), Jackson (assistant director of St. Louis for Kids and Roundtable member) and Archibald (president of the Missouri Historical Society).

Nearly $100,000 went to Joyce Aboussie, national political director for Democratic presidential candidate Dick Gephardt. Aboussie's St. Louis telemarketing firm identified likely voters and called them up with a recorded endorsement from the mayor and two prominent black pastors: Black Leadership Roundtable president B.T. Rice and former school board president Earl Nance Jr., who's now a member of Slay's education task force.

To be sure, the candidates had plenty of ammunition in their attack against the status quo at St. Louis schools. The 10 percent dropout rate for the 2002-03 school year compares to a statewide average of 4 percent. The graduation rate for the same year was an abysmal 58 percent, compared to 84 percent statewide. And the number of junior high students unable to read or do math at their grade levels was far above statewide averages. In addition, only 88 percent of city school teachers were certified, compared to 97 percent statewide. (As bad as those numbers sound, they actually were huge improvements over past years. The district is only provisionally accredited but has been making strides to reach full accreditation next year.)

With the help of PR giant Fleishman Hillard, which was paid an undisclosed amount by Civic Progress, the candidates sold the idea of reforming city schools by stripping waste and returning dollars to the classroom.

During his campaign, Schoemehl told the Post-Dispatch that being mayor had taught him how important it is for the public to believe in what elected officials are doing. "Confidence in the schools can be restored," he said. "But this will require candid interaction with the public."

Soon after the slate took office, though, "interaction with the public" evaporated. During its first meeting, the new board withdrew the public-comment segment from the agenda entirely. The revelation that Fleishman Hillard was being paid by Civic Progress to assist with public relations added to suspicion in the black community that the board had been hijacked by big money and special interests.

The Riverfront Times submitted a formal request, under the state's public records law, for all correspondence between Fleishman Hillard and the Board of Education. Lawrence Wadsack, an attorney for the board, responded that no memos, letters, e-mails or other forms of written communication exist.

A Math Lesson

Despite the imposing name, Grand Center's headquarters occupy a stuffy, low-budget suite on the top floor of the building on Grand Boulevard that houses the city's health department. On Vince Schoemehl's wall hangs a framed cartoon with two buzzards sitting on a branch. "Patience my ass," the caption reads. "I'm going to kill something."

Schoemehl wants to talk about the school district budget today. He explains that he and the other new board members were shocked when, not long after they were sworn in, superintendent Cleveland Hammonds Jr., who had announced his retirement, revealed that the district faced a $55 million shortfall. "We thought there was plenty of money when we ran," Schoemehl says.

Former school board president Bill Purdy isn't buying it. "If they didn't know, it means that they simply did not do their homework before they were elected," Purdy says. "Governor Holden held a major press conference in Jefferson City, where I was present, and distributed a written document showing how much each Missouri district would be cut."

Purdy, a retired city schools principal, also disputes Slay's characterization that the old board and Hammonds spent the district's cash reserves "like drunken sailors." The year before, the board had approved spending down the reserves by $10 million to cover a promised pay raise to teachers, according to former district treasurer George Byron. As the state budget cuts kept coming, Purdy says, the district slashed spending on administration and board expenses and froze hiring in some departments.

With the superintendent retiring and the budget in the red, the new board hastily assembled a committee -- made up of Schoemehl, Jackson, Hilgemann (who was elected in 2001) and executives from Civic Progress -- to choose an interim district leader. One of the options Schoemehl strongly pushed was hiring an outside consulting firm, rather than one person, to come in and cut the fat in a $455 million budget.

Within two weeks of receiving proposals, the team selected Alvarez & Marsal, a New York turnaround firm that customarily saves businesses from bankruptcy. Bill Roberti, a former clothing company executive, would lead a team of consultants in an unprecedented experiment that would garner national attention -- solving inner-city education woes by using corporate management and cost-cutting strategies.

The price tag for Alvarez & Marsal alone would be $5 million, plus expenses. As of October 15, the district had paid Alvarez & Marsal nearly $2 million, including $179,000 for lodging, meals, plane tickets, cab fare and, in one case, a $135 limousine ride for Roberti from LaGuardia Airport to his home in Connecticut. Another consulting firm, Houston-based McConnell Jones Lanier & Murphy, has been paid nearly $800,000, including expenses.

The team quickly pronounced the budget deficit even direr than Hammonds' prediction. They said $90 million needed to be sliced from the previous year's budget in order to balance revenues and expenses. The plan Hammonds had submitted to the Board in May would have closed six schools at the beginning of the summer and eliminated all athletic programs citywide. Instead, the new board voted to close sixteen schools -- twelve of which were in predominately African-American neighborhoods of north St. Louis -- and announced in August that 1,400 employees would lose their jobs immediately.

The backlash was intense. As the first day of school approached, Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton came to town and urged parents to keep their children home. Lizz Brown, host of the WGNU (920 AM) talk show The Wake Up Call, denounced Roberti as a racist monster.

This wasn't the first time Roberti had dealt with pissed-off people. There were the inconsolable Ivy Leaguers who berated him for adding too much polyester to Brooks Brothers suits when he was president and CEO of the upscale haberdasher.

But they never called him a child abuser, a thief or a coward. They never organized in the halls of churches or assailed his name day after day on the radio. And reporters never asked him to justify how he could charge more money for an hour than many people earn in a week.

When Elliott Davis of KTVI-TV (Channel 2) asked Roberti how a broke school district can afford to pay him $425 an hour, the interim schools chief kicked the reporter out of his office. (When the Riverfront Times asked for an interview for this story, he scoffed, "You guys called me 'Demolition Man,'" and stalked off. He's right, of course; we did, in D.J. Wilson's July 9 cover story.)

And it's a safe bet that no one on his board of directors ever sent him an e-mail with the heading "YOU CAN KISS MY ASS."

Press "Send"

On a chilly October day, Bill Haas sits outside Einstein Bros. Bagels in the Central West End. He's talking about his English degree from Yale, his law degree from Harvard, his part-time jobs at Wal-Mart and Harris Stowe College and his three failed bids for the mayor's seat. A young African-American man walks by, recognizes Haas and calls out, "Give 'em hell, Bill!"

"I paid him to say that," Haas quips, clearly pleased with the compliment. "They all love me," he says later.

He has come to explain an e-mail he sent a few days earlier to Roberti. The subject line surely got the interim superintendent's attention. It said: "YOU CAN KISS MY ASS."

In the missive, typed at 1:10 a.m. on October 6 (available here), Haas refers to Roberti's colleague, Karen Marsal, as the interim superintendent's "strap-on girlfriend." He goes on to pose this question: "[I]f we're paying those incompetents [consulting firm McConnell Jones Lanier & Murphy] who did that piece of shit 'school consolidation report' a $1,000,000, what the fuck are we paying your firm's stupid asses $4,000,000 to do?

"You'll want to think twice before you write me or any other board member you ever work for another stupid, sarcastic email, won't you, sparky? Now go take your blood pressure medicine and retire."

Haas says he apologized to Marsal twice and adds that he has never used so many expletives at one time in his life. Then again, in a series of four voicemails to the RFT totaling sixteen minutes, he also opines that "Anybody who doesn't understand what I did and why I did it and why I'm angry can kiss my ass."

"I've had no power since the four of them got elected," explains Haas, who came to the school board in 1997. "I am smarter on my worst day than the four or five of them on their best. And I'm a pretty humble guy."

Can You Hear Me Now?

Dressed in a sharp charcoal suit, George Cotton stands before a crowd of nearly 300 people packed into the fellowship hall of St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church on Hamilton Avenue in north St. Louis. Cotton, a former district administrator and ex-University City councilman, announces gleefully, "We have Bill Roberti's cell phone number!"

The audience erupts. "Call him and see how he's doing!" Cotton teases. No more than five seconds pass before someone takes him up on it. "It's ringing!" screams a middle-aged woman, holding up her cell phone. "You better get out of our city!" she warns, and hangs up.

Lizz Brown, the radio talk show host, steps forward, beaming. "You gave five hundred and sixteen dollars!" she proclaims, holding a thick wad of cash. The money is for a nine-year-old boy who climbed over a stairway railing at Mitchell Elementary School on October 21, fell to the asphalt playground twelve feet below and was sent to the hospital, where he lay in serious condition.

The day he fell, callers to Brown's show prayed on the air. Brown blamed Roberti and the school-board members who hired him. "Roberti might as well have pushed him," Brown spat.

Her callers agreed heartily. They believe that children are not being properly supervised, owing to the board's decision to lay off 140 teachers' aides along with other support personnel. When callers don't agree with her, Brown cuts them off. She told one caller recently, "Of course I'm right. I'm always right."

Much of the information for Brown's show is collected by members of a grassroots organization called The Community, which meets every Thursday at St. Paul AME Church. At tonight's meeting, parents, teachers, district employees and students are poring over district financial information, documenting complaints and writing the school board to demand more data.

Brown's information also comes in the form of tips and rumors, passed along by parents, teachers, students and district insiders. Students from Compton Drew Middle School called her show November 4 to tell listeners that none of the school's eighth-grade teachers had shown up. (Nearly 200 teachers caught the "blue flu" that day to protest changes to their sick-leave benefits).

A teacher sitting in the front row at St. Paul's tonight stands to announce that at Roosevelt High School, fighting is getting worse. "There's so few staff," says the teacher (who later requests that her name not be published). "One kid, his eye was literally hanging out after the fight.

"The bathrooms are locked because there's not enough supervision," she continues. "So today somebody shit on the floor in the hallway and peed on the stairwell."

The district disputes that schools are understaffed and claims that its teacher-to-student ratios for every grade are the same or better than last year. Charlene Jones, an assistant superintendent and longtime district employee, says 200 additional certified teachers have been hired as part of an ongoing effort to gain full accreditation.

But Mary Armstrong, president of the Local 420 teachers union, paints a different picture. "As of today, we still have classes throughout the district that exceed the maximums," Armstrong informed the board November 18. "There are administrators using library media specialists as teachers. The first quarter is almost over and we still have classes that are lacking basic instructional supplies, textbooks and equipment. There still aren't enough desks or tables in some classes. Discipline remains a problem."

Two months after school started, students complain that they still do not have teachers for some classes. Teachers are still being moved to new schools as the district tries to juggle the logistical fallout of hastily closing sixteen schools.

Blame It on a Decline in Inventory

After his school was closed this fall, fourth-grade teacher Andrew Latchison was sent to Banneker Elementary, just south of Delmar Boulevard and west of Jefferson Avenue. "Teachers learn to adjust and adapt," says Latchison. But, he adds, "There are some things that are intolerable. A lot of people are not being sensitive to the needs of these kids."

When Latchison heard Hempstead Accelerated Elementary School would close, he was devastated. Not only had he taught fourth graders there for six years, but he had attended the school as a child.

"That neighborhood was a family," Latchison says of the north-side community where Hempstead once served 233 students. Over the years, he had sat down for dinner at the homes of many of his students. When families from the school fell on hard times, he took coats and food to their doors.

"There was no closure," Latchison laments. "We had to walk away from families we had seen every day. We can't be there for them to hug them and love them."

Schools and churches were sources of stability in many poor neighborhoods, providing a place to gather, not to mention a place to vote, says Lizz Brown, the WGNU host.

"I know Cleve Hammonds wouldn't have said, 'We're going to close schools and that's the end of the discussion," Brown says. "There would have been hearings, public comments. And I would have done the same thing I'm doing here -- asking for justification, making sure decisions are being made fairly."

Closing the sixteen schools is expected to save $14.5 million a year in operational costs. Of course, if district officials had been paying attention over the years, they could have closed schools gradually, rather than shuttering sixteen buildings all at once, says Sajan George, an Alvarez & Marsal consultant who was the district's acting chief financial officer until earlier this month. Enrollment has dropped 65 percent since 1967, George points out, but until this year the number of school buildings had only been reduced by 35 percent. "As inventory declined...." George pauses, then corrects himself. "As the number of kids declined, they should have closed buildings."

Going Once, Going Twice...

Peter Downs, a parent who ran unsuccessfully for the school board in the April elections, questions whether some of the school closings were necessary. A former RFT contributor, Downs has diligently recorded the daily activities of the board in an e-mail newsletter called "St. Louis Schools Watch."

Downs singles out the closing of magnet elementary school Waring Academy of Basic Instruction, located at 25 South Compton Avenue. The school had made impressive strides in its academic performance since 1999, with better-than-average test scores in math and science. The team of consultants that evaluated whether it should be closed gave it the highest academic ranking but docked it for low enrollment and lack of air-conditioning. They recommended that Waring's 156 students be relocated to Madison Elementary School on South Seventh Street, despite the fact that they'd given Madison a lower academic ranking and the building is 30 years older and in need of costly repairs.

"The suspicion was that the school board was closing Waring because St. Louis University wanted the property," Downs wrote in an October 22 newsletter.

According to an August 20 contract between the school district and local real estate giant Hilliker Corporation, the broker's commission would be discounted 45 percent if Waring School were sold to SLU.

As it turns out, SLU did have its eye on the school. The university bought the property for $1.25 million on November 6. Two weeks later, the university's president, Reverend Lawrence Biondi, revealed that the university is strongly considering building its new basketball arena on the site of the shuttered school.

"Go Back to Texas!"

Odysseus Lanier is expecting a fight tonight. It's November 4, and the school board is slated to approve a contract to pay $55 million over five years to Sodexho, a multinational food-service and facility-management firm.

The lights from the TV cameras illuminate Lanier as he delivers his PowerPoint presentation, proudly reciting the details of the deal he brokered. With the help of charts and graphs, he demonstrates how the district will save $5.9 million per year by putting Sodexho in charge of the district's buildings and grounds.

Then the heckling starts.

"House Negro!"

"Uncle Tom!"

Lanier has been called every racial slur imaginable since his Houston consulting firm, McConnell Jones Lanier & Murphy, was hired to assist Alvarez & Marsal.

From up on the dais, Bill Haas is barking at Lanier like a Chihuahua who has grown tired of being used as a tree by the big dogs.

"This community deserves a two-week dialogue on this, not twenty minutes before we take a vote," Haas complains. "We're expected to accept that we're saving money when we're given things at the last minute!"

Lanier explains that his firm negotiated with the unions so that 330 janitors and 26 engineers will stay on as district employees. (The custodians, however, are taking a 6 percent cut in pay.) About 115 other maintenance employees -- painters, carpenters, electricians -- will lose their jobs, but they can reapply. Approximately 73 will be rehired by Sodexho. "We didn't take this process willy-nilly--"

Haas is yelling at him now. And Lanier has had enough. "My firm has taken a lot of abuse, and we're not going to take it anymore," he explodes.

"Go back to Texas!" someone shouts as he sits down.

A cadre of African-American Sodexho managers arise to introduce themselves and answer questions from the audience. Several people are concerned about a class-action lawsuit filed against the company by 2,600 black employees who claim they were passed over for promotions because of their race. "Thirty-three percent of our key leadership are minorities," contends Bruce Smith, an African-American Sodexho manager who will oversee city schools.

"We will have an efficient operation, so that money can be used on children," Smith goes on.

Many principals were sick of custodians and maintenance workers who did not get fired despite being lazy and inept, says Sajan George, the Alvarez & Marsal number cruncher. "Most of the outcry has been from those with jobs outside the classroom," George contends. "Principals and most teachers are thrilled."

Ron Hollis, an electrical supervisor, disagrees. He says the new board and the outside management team fail to understand that in St. Louis schools, maintenance workers and custodians were considered role models and friends.

"I've gotten to know everyone in the schools," he says. "I've spoken with students as part of the role-model program. We encourage them to stay in school. We stress the importance of engineering and math, and we tell them that ladies can enter this field, too."

Musical Chairs

Some suspect that the Sodexho contract has more to do with politics than with saving money. A subplot to the negotiations was the fate of two maintenance employees, John Miriani, a painting supervisor, and Joe Clark Jr., a plumbing supervisor.

Both are on the board of the Public School Retirement System of the City of St. Louis, an eleven-member committee that oversees a $900 million pension fund for district employees. Miriani and Clark both will lose their jobs as district employees when the Sodexho contract is activated this month -- which means they can no longer serve on the pension board. A third retirement official, Helen Lynch, was laid off by the district in October; an election in December will determine who fills her seat. A special election will be held in January for the positions held by Miriani and Clark.

"I don't think it's ludicrous to think [the new school board members] wouldn't try to influence the election," posits middle-school teacher Amy Collins, an incumbent who is running for re-election to the board next month. "After all, the fund is almost $1 billion."

Adding to the suspicion is the new school board's insistence that yet another pension board member, John Mahoney, was illegally appointed to the panel by former school board president William Purdy. Mahoney is one of four former school board members, including Purdy, who sits on the pension panel. The term of former school board member Marlene Davis expires in December; the Board of Education will appoint someone to fill her seat next month.

Roberti wants the retirement board to give the district a pass on making the school district's employer contribution to the pension fund for the next two years. That would free up nearly $40 million in cash for the school district. At the same time, of course, $40 million less would be available for the pension fund to invest for future retirees. (Each school district employee pays a mandatory 5 percent of his or her salary into the retirement fund.)

In addition, Sajan George says the Board of Education wants the retirement committee to re-evaluate the way in which it calculates the district's annual contribution. The board approved spending $10,000 for Paul Cholak of Clark Consulting to form a task force to study the actuarial assumptions. Thus far, the pension board has refused to participate in a task force.

"Under the Missouri statute, the contribution is due to us by December 31," says Gail Lakin, executive director of the retirement fund. "And we're fully expecting it will be made. If it isn't made, we'll discuss what to do at that point."

For now, she reassures pensioners that their retirement benefits are safe. She says hundreds of elderly people have shown up at pension board meetings recently because they're afraid the Board of Education wants to raid the retirement fund. Radio host Lizz Brown has frightened retirees with outlandish claims, Lakin says, including an accusation that Mayor Slay wants the money to build the new Cardinals stadium.

But Brown isn't the only one who's suspicious. "Roberti, Sajan George and Francis Slay all covet that $1 billion nest egg," says Purdy. "It would be a wonderful thing, from their perspective, to get control of it."

Let the Open-Minded Dialoguing Begin

The weather is unusually warm on this November 18 evening, and so is the mood in the Carr Lane Middle School auditorium. Tonight's audience is small and uncharacteristically quiet, minus the usual hecklers.

From her seat at the center of the stage, school board president Darnetta Clinkscale promises more public participation in the decisions ahead. "We've made changes, some so quickly that members of the community didn't have time to understand why we were doing things," she concedes. "This has built walls between us. I want to hear from parents, teachers, taxpayers and, yes, children. I want them to tell us what we need to do."

"Too little, too late," chides Percy Green, a longtime civil rights activist and member of the Black Leadership Roundtable who has been an outspoken critic of the board's school-reform plan.

Board member Bob Archibald takes over and explains that he has been "soliciting advice" for the "formation of a facilitation team of community representatives to engage the community in discussion." The team, he says, will begin meeting in January.

"Who's on this facilitation team?" inquires board member Rochell Moore, who was elected in 2001.

"People who own companies who agreed to provide advice," Archibald answers.

The audience collectively groans as Archibald lists employees from Vectra and Unicom. He also mentions Richard Callow, a local PR consultant who helped get the mayor's slate elected. "And I also got advice from the mayor's office," Archibald concludes.

"To bring these names to this community -- you have insulted them," Moore charges, as she looks out over the audience. "You're bringing people to the table who have nothing to do with public education. People who have nothing to do with community activism. You didn't list Percy Green!"

"We envision thousands of people being involved," Archibald persists.

"You won't get one person if you don't invite members of the audience at the beginning," Moore counters. "This is what breeds hostility!"

Haas steps in to play the peacemaker, a hat that seems ill-fitting on his head.

"At the executive session," he reminds Moore, "we all committed to be open-minded to other ideas and to dialoguing."

Even the hecklers are silenced, if only for a minute, when Vince Schoemehl speaks up next. "In executive session earlier, I started with an apology to Mr. Haas and the board for my arrogant behavior that got the board off to the wrong start," he begins. "It was heavy handed, and for that I apologize. I don't know how you un-ring a bell."

"Shhhh!" scolds Moore to someone in the audience who isn't buying it.

"Shame on me for not doing better," Schoemehl continues. "We will all do our best to involve everyone."

"We always wanted to be involved!" someone shouts.

"Too little, too late," Green snorts again.

"It's never too late," board member Jackson counters gently.

At that, Haas withdraws from the agenda a resolution that would have asked Clinkscale to step down as president. Roberti commences his midterm report.

He's explaining how, for the first time ever, each department will present the board with monthly financial statements. To each board member, he passes out two bound books that detail other accomplishments: Procurement soon will be handled electronically; a new benefits plan for teachers will provide the same coverage but save the district nearly $5 million a year; a system is being developed for the accounting and distribution of textbooks.

Then Roberti repeats the theme of the evening: "We have to do more listening and heeding what people say."

"Too little, too late!" Green shouts again.

"Leave him alone!" someone screams as Charles McCrary, the district's security director, puts his hand on Green's shoulder and whispers to him.

Board members are still talking, but no one is listening to them. Green shakes his head, refusing to stand. Four St. Louis police officers are standing over him now.

"What has he done?" someone cries as the officers pull the 67-year-old Green from his seat to the floor and handcuff him.

Most of the crowd follows Green and his police escort outside to a squad car. Inside, the board has one last agenda item to dispense with.

"I make a motion to appoint Vince Schoemehl to the retirement board to fill John Mahoney's seat," Clinkscale declares. "Ms. Davis' seat we'll fill in December."

"No, that's not acceptable!" yells Byron Clemons, a journalism teacher at Gateway Institute of Technology High School. "Vince, you have no shame!"

"Why is it that only the four of you get to be in charge?" Moore asks.

The meeting is adjourned.

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