The conference room door was locked, with an agenda taped to it stating the board meeting would begin 1 p.m. Thursday.
Inside, John de la Howe School president Thom Mayer was talking with board of trustees' Chairman Jan Duncan and Vice Chairman Rosalind McNeal to prepare for the board meeting, according to staff.
When asked if there were any other board members in attendance, Mayer issued an unintelligible response.
Such conferences, he suggested, are protected under the Freedom of Information Act, as the presence of two members does not constitute a quorum, or simple majority. In the case of John de la Howe, four of the six board members would be necessary to form a simple majority. According to the Freedom of Information Act, a gathering of a simple majority constitutes a meeting of a public body. The public must be notified of such meetings in advance, and under South Carolina state law, the public has the right to attend. It is illegal to conduct such meetings otherwise.
Whether other members were present early through a conference call has yet to be determined.
The school is currently under review by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
Board member Barbara Devinney arrived at the conference room shortly before 1 p.m. Board members Donna Wesby and Felicia Preston were present through a conference call.
After roll call, a prayer and an introduction of guests and media, the board went into a closed-door meeting, commonly referred to by public bodies as executive session.
Paul Agnew, who is in the process of being hired as attorney, pending approval by the attorney general, joined the executive session at about 1:15 p.m.
The board returned to open session at 2:12 p.m.