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JSD Board of Education Brushes Works to Improve Etiquette - KOAM TV 7

JSD Board of Education Brushes Works to Improve Etiquette

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -  Typically taking place in private, president of the Joplin Schools Board of Education Jeff Koch says every new board member has to do orientation.

"We've got two new members from last year, two new members this year, and then two that have been quite some time since they've gone through an orientation," Koch said.

After an initial meeting which ran 5 and a half hours, featuring sometimes-contentious discussion, Koch called for a special session of the board so all members could participate, publicly. Something which the official agenda calls a discussion of board etiquette.  

"Every new board comes together and has a different composition, different officers, and you want to set your expectations," Koch said.

Terry Merion is an expert on business etiquette at MSSU.  

"Any meeting has a good culture if it's run well," Marion said.

"We're gonna start on time," Koch said. "We're gonna have an agenda."

"It would imply that you had some ground rules," Marion said.

"We're gonna put some structure to it," Koch said.

But it's not just a matter of making the meetings faster.

One moment of contention during the last school board meeting involved superintendent CJ Huff publicly criticizing board member Debbie Fort after Fort's nomination for school board president.

"I felt awkward," Koch said. "It didn't seem to be the right place to have that conversation."

The moment caused Joplin City Council member Ryan Jackson to write an open letter regarding Huff, calling the superintendent's actions, "out of control".  

"I wasn't an officer and I didn't feel like I had any authority necessarily to stop what was going on," Koch said. 

"What do they say? Where two or more people are gathered together, there will be a conflict," Marion said. "You're just gonna have that."

Huff was unable to attend Wednesday night's meeting, having to attend a retirement reception.  

Koch says the scheduling conflict was unintentional.  

"We're gonna be appropriate to each other," Koch said. "We're gonna be the example and I think we can do that."

Superintendent Huff was unavailable for comment.

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