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Last Wednesday the Education Board voted 5-2 to reconsider its February decision to adopt a new bell schedule for the island's Public High Schools however Board Member Barry Mead made a point of order stating that Roberts Rules of Order require a two-thirds vote by the board to rescind prior action; two members were absent from the meeting. The board then decided to request an opinion from the Attorney General's office on the vote.Today [Wednesday], in a legal memorandum written to Department of Education Interim Superintendent Taling Taitano, Assistant Attorney General Shannon Taitano concluded:
"Robert's Rules pertaining to the number of votes required at a board meeting is inapplicable since Guam law provides the number of affirmative votes required for any Board action to be valid."
In reaction to the opinion, Mead told PNC News in a phone interview today that the opinion does not necessarily mean that the Board's vote last Wednesday is now valid or that the new bell schedule has been rejected. He pointed out that the Board voted to "reconsider not recind" the bell schedule. Mead said that no alternative schedule has been proposed or adopted yet so the fate of the 4AB schedule is still in doubt.
Following the opinion from the AG's office today Santos wrote to board members stating that he'd like to request a work session to discuss options to consider for the high school bell schedule writing that the status quo is not an option.
"We cannot revert to the previous schedules because the schedules were not helping our students," Santos wrote in the email which he also shared with PNC. "Therefore, I am asking each of you, especially those members who votes to reconsider their previous decisions to please provide a recommendation or solution."
Teachers and students voiced opposition to the 4AB schedule following the board's vote to adopt the changes in February. Board Member Joe San Agustin made the motion to reconsider the schedule at last week's meeting stating that the board didn't receive enough feedback from stakeholders prior to taking action on the schedule.READ the Attorney General's OPINION on last week's Education Board "Bell Schedule" vote below:
Ref.: DOE 12-0622
To: Interim Superintendent, Department of Education
From: Attorney General
Subject: Application of Robert's Rules of Order to Guam Education Board Actions
This is in response to your request regarding the application of Robert's Rules of Order (Robert's Rules) to the Guam Education Board ("Board") actions.
Guam law sets forth the voting requirements for a valid action of the Board. Title 17 G.C.A. § 3102.2 states "... an affirmative vote of five (5) members is required for any action to be valid." This statute was added by P.L. 30-183:2 (August 25, 2010) and amended by P.L. 31-019:4 (April 18, 2011).
The Board also has a policy pertaining to voting at board meetings. Board policy 125.04 was adopted prior to the statute and it provides, "[w]here not provided by law or Board policy, conduct of Board operations and meetings shall be in accordance with Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised." This policy was adopted on August 2, 1977 and revised on October 2, 1979.
Since voting at board meetings is provided by law, Robert's Rules of Order does not apply. The Supreme Court of Guam stated that" '[i]f there is no ambiguity in the language, we presume the Legislature meant what it said, and the plain meaning of the statue governs.'
(citations omitted)." Attorney General v. Gutierrez, 2011 Guam 10. "It is '[o]ur duty to interpret statutes in light of their terms and legislative intent' and thus, '[a]bsent clear legislative intent to the contrary, the plain meaning prevails.' (citation omitted)." Guam Election Commission, 2007 Guam 20. "In cases involving statutory construction, the starting point of the court's analysis must be the language employed by the Legislature. (citation omitted) This is because of the presumption that the legislative purpose is expressed by the ordinary meaning of the words used. ld. This presumption, known as the plain-meaning rule ... " Bowlby v. Nelson, 1985 WL 56583 (D.Guam A.D.).
Here, the statute on its face is clear. A plain reading of 17 G.c.A. § 3102.2 requires an affirmative vote of five (5) Board members for any action to be valid.
The words "any action" have broad application and the use of the words in the statute by the Legislature conveys its intent to apply to all voting requirements conducted at Board meetings. The intent of the Legislature is also made evident by the omission of words or phrases that would require voting at board meetings in accordance with the Robert's Rules of Order since the statute was enacted many years after the Board policy was adopted. See, e.g.,_Yellow Freight Sys ., Inc. v. Donnelly, 494 U.S. 820, 823 (1990) (reasoning that the omission of certain language in the statutory scheme is evidence of legislative intent to leave such language out); Am. Hosp. Ass'n v. NL.R.B., 499 U.S. 606, 613 (1991) (same).I
This is consistent with the Board's policy to conduct Board operations and meetings in accordance with Robert's Rules when not provided by law. Robert's Rules would not need to apply to Board's actions since the statute clearly provides for the number of affirmative votes for any Board action to be valid. Applying a more stringent voting requirement in accordance with Robert's Rules would be contrary to the statute and policy.
Robert's Rules pertammg to the number of votes required at a board meeting is inapplicable since Guam law provides the number of affirmative votes required for any Board action to be valid.
Assistant Attorney General
II The Supreme Court of Guam cited these cases in Core Tech v. Hanil, 2010 Guam 13, to determine whether the statute at issue was ambiguous.
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