The Brighton Board of Education is expected to enact a policy in the near future which would allow a member to vote in absentia – meaning while absent from the meeting – if connected electronically by telephone.

The board discussed the pending policy at its meeting last Monday, with Trustee John Conely the lone member steadfastly against it. Conely, who boasts that he has never missed a board meeting in his two terms on the board, told fellow members that a member should be physically present at a meeting in order to have voting privileges. Ironically, the board has already held meetings in recent months in which a member was unavoidably absent, but voted while connected to the meeting over a speaker phone.

But it has not been a formal policy, and Conely, for one, says it needs to be codified as such. Supt. Greg Gray said that administration contacted a few area districts to see what their policy was regarding voting by phone while absent from a meeting. Gray said that while Hartland said they don’t allow a board member to vote without being present, Howell has what he called “no ironclad policy” prohibiting it. While most said it should be OK to vote if connected to the meeting by phone, all on the Brighton Board agreed they should not be allowed to vote by phone after a closed session in which they were not present.

If approved at a future board meeting, the matter will be turned over to the district’s legal firm to draft language so that it becomes a formal part of board of education policy. (TT)