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Facebook postings come up at meeting

May 21, 2019 News Extra

School board lawyer weighs in

Facebook comments wormed their way into the Butler School Board's business Monday night.

The board's working session — held before each regular voting board meeting — was consumed entirely in a closed door executive session related to personnel matters. During the regular meeting, solicitor Tom King brought up a topic they had previously discussed, possibly during that closed-door session.

“I was asked to speak publicly about the opinions on two cases that came down from our advisory board,” King said. “I wanted the board to know, and I was asked to speak about them publicly. This is not directed to anyone here in particular.”

King summarized two cases that involved a public official blocking individuals from seeing content on their social media page. The examples represented a broad range of legal precedent ranging from the U.S. president's tweets to a school board member's Facebook page. Legal precedent, King explained, is that an elected official at any level can't block people from seeing content related to their official conduct.

While King didn't directly identify any particular school supervisor, the discussion likely revolved around director Bill Halle.

A news story about the board's meeting last week that was published on the Butler Eagle's Facebook page drew nearly 300 comments by Monday night. Many of them were made by Halle himself. He and Barry Cummings, husband of Director Jennifer Cummings, directed several comments at each other throughout. Several board members have said that they can't see Halle's posts and comments on Facebook because he blocked them.

Shortly before their executive session began, Halle posted a final comment stating that he blocked Cummings and “certain other board members” for “dishonest communication” on the social media platform.

This is an excerpt. Pick up Tuesday's print edition or subscribe online for the entire report.