BY PENNY CARTER
The Barbour County Board of Education meeting had barely gotten started on May 13 before the board president and a member of the board had words.
Following a roll call to establish a quorum, board member Jimmy Fryer asked to discuss something on the agenda before it was approved at the meeting, to which board president Shirley Johnson told him that they “can’t discuss this.”
“We can’t discuss this, it’s not on the agenda,” Johnson told Fryer, to which he replied, “We can’t discuss this? The agenda has not been approved. I would like to ask for a discussion.”
Fryer was quickly told by Johnson that he did not have the right to discuss or ask about the agenda. “Okay,” Fryer said. “I will ask a little later on down the road.”
Two board members, Fryer and Johnnie Helms, opposed the agenda approval, setting the tone for the remainder of the meeting.
As the approval for the minutes from the April 4 special called meeting and the April 8 regular board meeting was called for, Fryer tried to talk about an error in the minutes that needed to be corrected before they were approved. Once again, Johnson told him that he couldn’t discuss the item. “You can’t discuss it, there might be something missing, but you can’t discuss it,” Johnson told Fryer. “You either vote for it or against it.”
“I have a right to discuss it,” Fryer said. “There is an error in the minutes. I have a right to discuss it if there is an error in it. These are becoming legal documents of this board and if there is an error in it I have the right to make it known.”
At this point Johnson broke from her argument with Fryer to address someone in the audience, “You not supposed to be talking. Will you please be quiet? Now, we respecting ya’ll; ya’ll respect us. You came to the meeting, now this is going on up here, so I would appreciate it if you would keep the comments to yourself. That’s the way it’s supposed to go. We give ya’ll respect; ya’ll give us respect… that‘s all we ask.”
The argument between Fryer and Johnson continued as Fryer said he had the right to correct the minutes for the meetings and Johnson saying he did not. Fryer told Johnson that she had not given him the respect she spoke of, after she told him he was out of order.
“I have gave you respect,” Johnson said. “You don’t have the right… you should have called Mrs. Thompson and corrected them.”
Fryer told Johnson that she should have called him and told him, that it is part of her job as board president, to which Johnson stated that she does not have the right to call him. “They have it in the minutes at the state that you do not want me calling you. I don’t have the right to call you, because you don’t want me to call you, so I am respecting your wishes.”
Fryer responded, “No ma’am, you don’t respect me.”
Johnson promptly told Fryer that he was out of order, to which he replied, “You are out of order too.”
As the call for a motion and second went out to the board, followed by a call for those in favor of passing the minutes, Fryer spoke up again calling for a discussion. The call for discussion was denied by Johnson. Fryer voiced his opposing vote to the passing of the minutes that he felt were incorrect before the board moved on to other business on the approved agenda.