The parents of Académie Lafayette students elect (by alternating year) two parents to represent them on their school board. Once such person, Marvin Lyman, also the current board Vice President, is just finishing up his two-year term. And he so impressed the permanent board members they had recently voted to retain him as a ‘permanent’ member.
At AL’s September Parent Teacher Student Organization meeting, where Lyman had been asked to talk on the duties/responsibilities of a parent-elected board member, he might well have destroyed all his previous good will.
Details differ dependent upon with whom you speak, 1 but by all accounts Mr. Lyman refrained from providing the requested information and instead offered up…
Well, let’s go directly to the letter, shall we?
Lyman’s behavior as described by the people we spoke with, and apparently only hinted at in the above missive, was “racist, hateful and wholly unexpected”, as well as a radical departure from his previous public presentations; his LinkedIn page depicts a politically savvy individual who is still Mayor James political campaign Treasurer. In short, no matter the exact phrasing of Lyman’s speech that September evening, it was not offered up naïvely – Lyman meant what he said, had put some thought, if not caution, into his words.
Sources say that when presented with the above letter, the AL Board acknowledged the submission and responded that though they were prepared to discuss the issue, a couple of key players were not yet in attendance. The meeting continued until such time as those individuals arrived, at which point the board went into an hour long closed session.
Attendees at last night’s meeting stated both the AL board’s lawyers, as well as AL’s charter sponsors, also attended the closed meeting.
Board members Marvin Lyman and Tracy Lewis were not in attendance during the closed session; Lyman did not show at all for last night’s meeting and Lewis arrived (from another board meeting) after the closed session had taken place.
Once the board entered into open session again the meeting proceeded apace normally, with no more mention of Lyman, much less his status or what the board had spent an hour discussing. At the end board President Phillips thanked audience members and adjourned the board.
From Academie Lafayette’s By-Laws :
Section 11. Removals: Vacancies: Directors may be removed, with or without cause, upon the affirmative vote of a majority of the remaining Directors. In the event of the removal of a non-Parent-Elected Director, or in the event of the death or resignation of such a Directory, a majority of the remaining non-Parent-Elected Directors may fill such vacancy or vacancies. A non-Parent-Elected Director elected to fill a vacancy shall serve as such until the next annual meeting of the Board of Directors at which non-Parent-Elected Director are elected. In the event of the removal of a Parent-Elected Director, or in the event of the death or the resignation of such a Director, the vacancy shall be filled by election of the legal guardians of the Corporation’s students at a special meeting in the same manner as at an annual election. Any director so elected shall serve until the expiration of the term of the directorship he or she was elected to fill.
The people with whom we’ve spoken were disappointed that the AL board took no action last night.
To be clear, Lyman could have been legally removed from the AL board last night with no effective recourse; as AL’s by-laws make plain, they don’t even need a reason to remove a Director.
More than one observer saw the AL board’s invitation to both their sponsor and their lawyers to last night’s meeting as an overabundance of caution. 2 Yet another person opined the AL board did not want to remove Lyman without first warning the Mayor’s office. 3 A more skeptical observer noted the hour long closed session, with both lawyers and sponsor, struck him as the type of meeting that occurred when a board was laying the groundwork to defend the indefensible. In other words, in this person’s opinion, the AL board seemed prepared to sweep the incident “under the rug” and continue on as though nothing untoward had occurred.
That would be unfortunate, if only because it would perpetuate the myth that people of color can not ipso facto behave in a racist manner. But more importantly it would send the message that an aging AL board (many of whom have been reelecting themselves for over the past 10 years) are out of touch with both the parents and their students, that the individual members of the board are only concerned with their own plans and internecine struggles. 4
In the end the person who set off the current firestorm has some responsibility to end it; for any public official, elected or not, even the appearance of impropriety is to be avoided at all costs. It would therefore be the correct action for Marvin Lyman to publicly announce his immediate resignation from the AL Board of Directors.
- As we only learned of this a scant hour ago, we’ve managed to speak to just 4 or 5 of the (est.) 50 parents who actually witnessed the event. ↩
- Or, as one wit quipped, “It was a wuss move.” ↩
- Though if Lyman’s remark were as incendiary as witnesses have described, he should have contacted James himself first thing: always let your boss get out ahead of bad news. ↩
- Which may well be the case, but one would hope the board would at least attempt to put a good face on it. ↩