Friends of Delray Newsletter

October 8th, 2023

Trouble In Paradise?  Delray Beach Education Board

Two new volunteer members and prominent leaders in the education field recently quit the City’s Education Board. Given the importance of civic involvement to The Delray Way, it is critical to examine how the city of Delray Beach utilizes its volunteer advisory boards. Members of several advisory boards have stated that the city is reining in their influence and even their conversations. 
Let’s first examine what advisory boards typically are, and what they do to serve a city. 
Volunteer advisory boards are relied upon in all cities as an essential component of city governance. They serve as a vital link between local governments and their communities as a tool to obtain valuable expertise, unique insights, community representation, and accountability, for free. Their input generally leads to more informed, inclusive, and effective decision-making. Delray Beach further defines through city ordinances what each advisory board is charged.
Our city has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve our schools and programming.  More than $50 million has been made available for planning, designing, building, and programming our schools. Approximately 50% of our property taxes and 35% of the "penny" tax are devoted to education and represent an opportunity for Delray to have top tier schools, but not if we scare off results-oriented board members.
How Not to Treat Citizen Volunteers
Only board members who resigned can provide reasons for voluntarily departing and they were not interviewed for this article. But there were enough people on the board and members of the public present at meetings to reveal problems that may have led to these resignations and contributed to the dysfunction between the board and city administrators. It is clear that there were administrative breakdowns: new members were not notified of their appointments nor given sufficient preparation materials. They were continuously marginalized in discussions, encumbered by overly strict interpretations of rules and regulations, and often provided erroneous information.

- Board members were not provided with the minimum background information necessary for their jobs. When a board member requested such information, they were advised that such a request was a violation of the Sunshine law.

- The assistant city attorney did a presentation on September 11 on the Sunshine Law informing the board that they must use their official city email addresses though several of them had not yet been assigned email addresses months after being appointed. One board member pointed out that she had been on the board for over a year and still does not have the correct city email address despite continuously raising the issue.

- The Education Board is required to conduct meetings using Robert's Rules of Order, yet meetings are chaotic, frequently canceled for a lack of quorum, and often indulge in rambling discussions regarding subjects that are not on the agenda. 


- The Board was provided with one paragraph of the city ordinance under which they operate rather than the entire ordinance—which is only two pages long. This allowed staff to misconstrue the Board’s role. For instance, staff told the Board they were not to communicate with the Palm Beach County School Board when the complete ordinance states the chair of the Delray Education Board is the liaison with the PBC school district.

- At the meeting on September 11, the assistant city manager sat in on the board meeting without introducing himself or being on the agenda. He took control of the meeting which would seem to violate the Sunshine Law as he is not a support staff to the Education Board. 

- The assistant city manager interrupted board discussion about Palm Beach County School Board to admonish the board for “wasting time” discussing something the “Commissioners had no interest in,” despite the fact the city ordinance states that board responsibilities include “review of the goals and policies of the city’s comprehensive plan,” and the board “Chairperson shall be the official spokesperson for the Board and the formal liaison between the Education Board and the School Board.” The assistant city manager’s words are troubling because the State Department of Education mandates an Interlocal Agreement (ILA) between the School District and the City. An ILA is a proven mechanism for Delray Beach to coordinate planning for our local schools with the County. This ILA is still in force, has withstood the test of time, is incorporated in the Comprehensive Plan, and is the vehicle for delivering quality education to Delray students. 

- Per city ordinance, the Education Board is “an advisory body to the City Commission,” not to city staff. 

- The assistant city manager also advised the board that they do not direct staff, the education coordinator specifically, but instead provide advice when asked. The city attorney’s representative stated it was not appropriate for the chair to have input on the agenda and that the chair did not have any special powers and was no different than any other board member. However, the city ordinance states explicitly that the chair is the liaison to the Palm Beach School Board while the coordinator is the liaison to school board staff. 

- Staff at times has not complied with requests from the Board.  For example, a consultant’s recommendation on Policies was requested subsequent to a yearlong study. The item was calendared and yet ignored.  It failed to appear on the next meeting’s agenda.

- The role of the Board is brought into question when education plans and goals are presented to the City Commission before being presented to the Board. Under this scenario, is the Board even necessary? According to the ordinance, the Board reports to the Commission, and the Board should be providing reports in Commission meetings. 

- That Board has been asking for financial information, as has the education consultant. The information has not been provided despite the fact that it is in the public domain.

- City staff terminated the 9/11/23 meeting during the middle of public discussions. That is the prerogative of the Board, not the staff. The chair runs the meeting.  The public was not amused. It appears that there is sufficient reason to examine the effectiveness of citizen involvement in Delray via advisory boards.  The basic question is whether they utilize their experience to advise the City Commission or are they simply a listening post for matters that have already been decided?


There is a reason that everyone loves the simplicity and grand gestures of Delray. Sure, the beach is one of the biggest draws, but it is the small events and community gatherings that really make Delray a small town with a big heart. One event that continues to prove that you don’t need front row seats or a reservation to have a good time is Art & Jazz on the Avenue. This event, that moves around like a gypsy on wheels, was held in the “Set” just West of Swinton. The good news is that it didn’t rain on the appointed day (like the month before), and a soft wind complemented a dazzling sunset. The even better news is that the entire evening felt like one big family picnic. There was live music that had guests dancing in the streets, chefs cooked up fun fare, and good vibes permeated the entire area. There were free Italian ices and lots of wonderful craft items to purchase. Children had their faces painted – which made them all look angelic – and there was a calm sweetness in the air. The DDA, in partnership with the Downtown Merchant and Business Association, created this wonderful event. There were two stages with live music, a kid’s zone, artists booths, large mural paintings and games.

The Spady Cultural Heritage Museum also pulled out the red carpet for all who entered to celebrate their newest exhibit of artifacts from Africa. This non-profit museum’s mission is to preserve and share Black history. Charlene Farrington, Executive Director, has widened the audience and influence of this wonderful cultural experience. It seems the sun always shines brighter in front of the Spady. It could be their ancestral heritage or just the trees that reflect the light over a piece of Delray that has not lost its history or heritage. There was a huge table with homemade food in their 1930’s cottage, and a talk with guests from all spheres in the home that Solomon D. Spady built in the 1920s.

For those with a penchant for the Age of Aquarius, Coco Market celebrated their last Veterans Park soiree. But not to worry, they convened on October 1st at Old School Square. For those lucky enough to get up early, and find a parking space, wonderment awaited. Corey Heyman, founder of Coco Market, taught a wonderful Yoga class on the grass near the gazebo. There was also sound healing, an elevating Goddess circle for women, and a drumming circle for the fellas. They eventually joined together to make beautiful music in union. The Coco Market is a wonderful place to hone up your chakras, make friends and eat wonderful vegan cuisine. There are free classes, healing sites and people who see the bright side of life from all corners. Little Wyld, the most adorable children’s boutique in town, had their 2 nd Anniversary Party last week. The owners, designer Amanda Perna and Skye Dyer, were there toasting with a little bit of bubbly. Amanda’s mom, who works at the shop also showed up to help children cast their spell on paper. Little Wyld also has clothing for adults with a flair for the colorful and whimsical side of life. We salute these brave women who have decorated the inside of this Pineapple Grove shop despite its slower pace than its cousin, Atlantic Avenue. Old School Square has reopened with new programs and concerts. The Chamber of Commerce continued its celebration of life and community minded gal pals at their summer soiree at Sklars last month. There was live music, whimsical items for purchase, and everyone wore White. There was shopping for the fun of it, and colors were brought to life by our collective hearts. Delray is a magical place with magical people. Many of them came out last month to show us that no matter what is happening in your life, there is always a spark of goodness to be had for a pittance.

Bookmark This!

For the entire month of October, the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce is delivering Do Good Delray Beach, a calendar of activities each combined with an association to a local non-profit organization.  There's too many to mention in this newsletter but check out the link above to see if there is something that strikes your fancy.

Side Note:  what sorcery did they use to land the domain name??

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