July 16, 2010 6:22 PM
HESPERIA • Politics can stir passions.
But a recent Hesperia Unified School District school board ended prematurely when board members erupted into shouting, name-calling — and even an invitation to throw down.
HUSD school board meetings are scheduled to end by 10:30 p.m., unless board members vote to extend the session longer. Monday night, they voted to stay until the 13 remaining action items were voted upon.
They didn’t get that far, however. They returned from their 90 minute closed session at 11:39 p.m. and knocked out one item out of the 13 remaining, approving a schedule for board meetings for the rest of the calendar year.
The often-contentious board then melted down when taking up the next item on the agenda: The second reading of a proposed invocation policy, which the board has been working on since 2009.
“It’s government-sanctioned prayer, and we are going to get sued, big time,” said board member Chris Bentley, who voted against the invocation originally. “Back up that money truck, [board president Hardy] Black.”
School board rules limit the amount of time anyone, including board members, may speak on a given issue, and after Bentley’s time expired, board member Robert Kirk, who has been Bentley’s regular sparring partner since Bentley was elected in 2008, began to speak.
But Bentley wasn’t done yet: He attempted to continue to speak even as Kirk began to, with the pair of them each raising their voices over the other.
“I believe this is my time,” said Kirk.
“I could care less,” replied Bentley, who was pressing Superintendent Mark McKinney for a clarification on the invocation policy.
“I know,” said Kirk.
“We didn’t disturb you, let him please talk.” Black said.
“Shut up, Hardy.”
“No, I will not shut up.”
“You’re out of order and …”
“Hardy, once again, being out of order from you is a badge of honor. November 2’s coming, buddy, and you need to start seeing the writing on the wall.”
Black, along with Kirk and fellow board member Lee Rogers, are up for reelection this year.
“I could care less,” said Black.
“I know you could care less, Hardy! You’ve proved it for almost four years, that you could care less.”
The board took a 60 second recess to cool things down, but to no avail, as things heated up even further after.
To read more about the heated discussion, see the full story in Saturday’s Daily Press. To subscribe to the Daily Press in print or online, call (760) 241-7755, 1-800-553-2006 or click here.
Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.