Fight over video camera disrupts Everett school board meeting

Aug 24, 2011

"No I’m not out of order, you’re not the boss of me here I’m sorry ..."

EVERETT, Wash. — A disagreement at an Everett School Board meeting got so heated, police were called to intervene.

(Video and partial transcription inside.)

The Daily Herald reports a tussle erupted Tuesday night during a closed door session after a long and divisive public meeting. The dispute centered on the job performance review of Superintendent Gary Cohn.

Things heated up when school board member Jessica Olson turned on a small videotape machine and other board members objected.

Below is a transcript of the first part and the last part of the more than four-minute video (which has been embedded at the end):

Jessica Olsen: This is going to get recorded here. You’re asking us to approve an evaluation report of Doctor Cohn…
Ed Peterson: You’re out of order; you’re not going to be recording anything here
Olsen: No I’m not out of order, you’re not the boss of me here I’m sorry
Peterson: This is an executive session
Olsen: Nope, I haven’t said anything illegal here. You’re not gonna touch it
Kristie Dutton (far right that you can’t see): Meetings over
Olsen: Meetings over, you’re dog-on right about this
Dutton: The meeting hasn’t started yet
Olsen: You wanna play hardball, let’s go, absolutely
Peterson: This is an executive session
Olsen: We will discuss the parameters of this evaluation and you’re gonna vote to ramrod this down one of the minority opinion doesn’t go in it. That’s wrong. I know you justify everything by unjustified means but this is just not going down
Dutton: This is under executive session
Olsen: We haven’t said anything about them yet, we’re talking about the parameters of his evaluation on what goes on this chart. You’re not gonna not include the minority remarks in here, that’s not gonna happen…
Dutton: You were just given this report so I don’t know how you’ve read it
Olsen: Because I can see that it’s all positive reports and none of the remarks I made are in there. Everybody gets to rate him from a 1 to 4 and the minority vote isn’t in there. There is no way that I’m gonna sign off on this

Last minute:

Dutton: Um why don’t we establish for the records that we had to end the meeting because Director Olsen refused to turn off the recorder
Olsen: And we had to end the meeting because we couldn’t agree on the parameters of the evaluation and how to write it up and how to discuss and open session
Dutton: It simply was because you had to record it
Olsen: This is not executive session material.
Dutton: We can’t discuss the executive session because your recorder is on
Olsen: No we have to discuss the parameters.
Dutton: We cannot discuss anything in executive session because your recorder is on ... (At this point something appears to be spilled on the camera and the recording ends.)

Board President Ed Petersen says he reached over to turn it off because he didn't want the private discussion to be made public. Olson says she was worried he was trying to confiscate her recorder. Then the argument reportedly got physical.

Olson's video recorder was working for part of the time and she showed the film to Herald reporters.

Everett police Sgt. Robert Goetz says statements were taken from those involved, but no arrests have been made.