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HEA in Disarray: Chaotic 22 June 2019 SGM
Home Education Association members reported chaos and unruly behaviour at the 22 June special general meeting, held in person and online, to discuss and debate a controversial special resolution put forward by the current committee.
"On so many levels I struggled through this meeting. it was appalling. nasty display," said a life member and past committee member, "a ridiculous waste of my time, it just makes HEA look even more incompetent, not how a meeting is supposed to be run."
Disruption emerged shortly after the meeting opened when requests by a past president and a current committee member were denied the opportunity to voice separate points of order relating to a serious conflict of interest regarding the Chair.
A 90minute presentation by the President, detailing why three people took the association to court, was described by one disgruntled member as "puerile and emotive", "condescending and self-righteous" and "unrelated to the purpose of the meeting".
Other members complained that no time was allowed for the addressing the defense put forward by the association, with one saying that the presentation was "unbalanced", "a biased, one-sided interpretation of disputed past events which contained factual errors".
At one point the President threatened to call the police to remove a member who interjected with an objection.
Members reported feeling intimidated by a "stand-over guy" at the back, alleging that he had threatened to physically remove one member, and was videoing members as they spoke. They cited concern that the Chair had not informed members attending in person that the meeting would be videoed.
People became vocal as frustration built as several members were "denied the basic right to speak against the motion", with the Chair allowing questions only, limited to two per member. "Questions regarding the need for the special resolution were brushed over, not adequately covered" reported one member.
Several members attending by Zoom complained of being ignored or 'muted', with one stating that he had his hand up for over half an hour.
In April 2019 a court-ordered special general meeting was held to elect a committee to get the association back on track after legal issues had left it in limbo, listed as 'in dispute' by the NSW Office of Fair Trading, for almost a year.
During that year a group of members appointed and promoted themselves through social media as an 'interim committee'. The group supported three people initiating and continuing legal action in the NSW Supreme Court against the association seeking a determination that a members' meeting held without notice to all members on 5 May 2018 be declared an annual general meeting, thus validating the group as the association's management committee. One of the three plaintiffs is the current President of the association.
Court-ordered mediation did not determine that the members' meeting on 5 May 2018 was a legitimate meeting and provided an opportunity for the association to elect a new committee. The new committee, comprised mainly of members who supported taking the association to court, decided to let the membership determine the matter.
On Saturday 22 June members were controversially asked to consider setting aside one of the association rules so that the committee could retrospectively validate the actions of the group.
According to one member, "counting was shambolic" when the opportunity to vote, by a raise of hands, finally arrived. Despite confusion regarding the nature of the motion, a 'no' vote on the special resolution was carried.
Members expressed surprise and disappointment that this was interpreted by the current committee to mean that the decision conferred 2018 presidency to a past president of the association.
"Many members audibly sighed, snorted in disbelief and said things like 'Unbelievable!' and 'You've got to be kidding!'"
As a result of this manipulation, the meeting did not achieve one of the outcomes the President was cited as stating early in the meeting, that of "putting the whole thing to bed".
The NSW Office of Fair Trading, NSW Supreme Court and now the HEA membership have all dismissed the claim that the group purporting to be an 'interim committee' between May 2018 to April 2019 was a legitimate committee of the association.
Anonymity was requested due to the current litigious climate within the association.
The Other Side was a Facebook group that gives members who are disturbed and concerned by the litigious behaviour of the current (2019 and 2020) committee. The information on the HEA website continues to misrepresent the facts.
Beverley Paine, HEA member 2003-2004, 2007-2018, regular volunteer, served on committee and various subcommittees, state chapter foundation member, newsletter editor, magazine editor and producer. She revoked her life membership after a hostile takeover of the association by a small group of members in 2018.
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