Board games

Well, that didn’t take long.

The honeymoon period for newly elected state Superintendent Janet Barresi came to an abrupt end at the Jan. 27 state Board of Education meeting.

The meeting, Barresi’s first as chair of the board, quickly turned into a sandbox of heated exchanges, name-calling and general animosity between Barresi and the members of the board over some of the official’s nominees in the state Department of Education.

Board members rejected the appointments of
several of Barresi’s staff, including Jennifer Carter as her chief of
staff, Damon Gardenhire as communications director and Jill Geiger as
director of finance.

Carter,
who was Barresi’s campaign manager, is unqualified for the spot, board
members argued, and there are questions as to the legality of some of
the staff’s salaries being paid for by private funds.

Board
member Tim Gilpin referred to Carter as Barresi’s “political crony” and
told Barresi “you are not dictator of this board.” Board member and
former Sen. Herb Rozell said legislative liaison Jessica Russell, who is
expected to take maternity leave in May, would be “worthless to us” if
she took the leave at that time. The exchanges prompted strong
denunciations and harrumphs of disapproval from several legislators and
Gov. Mary Fallin.

Any
bets on whether the next meeting will see the board dump Robert’s Rule
of Order and go directly to the two simple rules of Thunderdome?

Gazette staff

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