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Man removed from Tuscarora School Board meeting

October 14, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

MERCERSBURG, Pa. -- A few angry members of the public - including one man removed from the room by a police officer - dominated more than an hour of the Tuscarora School Board's meeting Monday.

William E. Landis started to read a five-page letter to the board, but then engaged in a heated debate with board members about their policies.

Superintendent Rebecca E. Erb asked Joe Cox, school resource officer, to take Landis from the room when the man refused to turn over a microphone. He later was permitted to stand in the back of the auditorium with Cox.

"I'm happy to be a part of a country where you're able to say whatever you want to (say) however misguided it may be. We're nine people sitting up here trying to do the best we can and you come in and make it miserable for us," board member Daniel Reeder said, saying the board has listened patiently to Landis every time he speaks.

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In response to Landis's accusations about the board acting unlawfully, Reeder told the Mercersburg resident to contact whatever attorney or agency he felt was appropriate.

Landis charged that the school board recently violated Pennsylvania's open meetings law, commonly called the Sunshine Act, when it appointed Kenneth E. Nolen to a board vacancy. Much of Landis' argument centered on the board not deliberating publicly about the decision.

However, board members said they read résumés from 17 applicants and voted by paper ballot at the Sept. 22 meeting.

"I think it's an embarrassment to the board to eject the gentleman who spoke. He has rights," said Allen Piper, president of the Citizens for Responsible Government taxpayers group.

"I think the board should be ashamed. You have armed security guards in here," said Tim Stanton of Mercersburg.

"That presentation was out of line. It was grandstanding," board member Daryl Hunsberger responded.

Hunsberger said he was "sitting here, embarrassed for the children in the room" as voices were raised.

The board was cordoned off from the public by a yellow rope Monday.

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