Monday night, the Hesperia Unified School District was scheduled to have their only school board meeting of the month. The meeting did not happen.

The closed session portion of the meeting, where the board is legally permitted to discuss a small number of strictly defined issues, normally begins at 4 and ends by 6 p.m., in time for the public portion of the meeting. Monday, closed session stretched out to after 7 p.m., and Superintendent Mark McKinney, coming out to report the board's actions behind closed doors, as required by law, announced that the board had voted 3-2 to adjourn the meeting during closed session.

With a week to go before the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year, and hiring and contract payments on the agenda, the two board members who voted against the decision -- board vice-president Lee Rogers and board member Chris Bentley -- stopped by the meeting room to voice their opposition to canceling the meeting.

By law, what happens in closed session has to stay in closed session, for the most part. The legal purpose of behind-closed-doors meetings includes protecting the identity of personnel and students whose individual situations are being discussed, along with discussions relating to legal cases or contract negotiations.

So the participants can only discuss what happened Monday night in a roundabout fashion. But they agree on one thing: It was the other guy's fault.

"During closed session, as we were discussing closed business, Bentley started using vile and profane language, directed at me," board member Robert Kirk said Tuesday. "He began saying 'f you, f you, f you.'"

Since Bentley's 2008 election, he and Kirk have clashed at nearly every meeting, and in June, Bentley began gathering signatures in an attempt to have Kirk recalled.

"The people of Hesperia elected me to do a job on this board," said Kirk. "They didn't hire me to put up with a profane and vile person attacking me and my family."

"I would respond to that allegation by saying that I have been offended for quite some time by their obscene actions," Bentley said Wednesday, referring to the controlling majority of Kirk, Hardy Black and Anthony Riley. "Their total disregard for staff proposals. I have seen Robert Kirk disrespect [Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Jovy Yankaskas] in open session. I have seen Hardy Black disrespect speakers at the podium."

Bentley said that what he characterizes his "passion" is in the service of students and parents: "I ran because I want to be a voice for parents and students. I will passionately defend our students' safety and our parents' right to know what's going on in our schools."

But Bentley said that nothing he did stopped the meeting from going forward on Monday.

"To say that I stopped the meeting is completely false: I voted no," he said.

Kirk disagreed.

"You can't move forward. That's the thing," he said. "These rants go on and on and on and you can't get to the business. We were in there until 7 o'clock last night, and we didn't begin to get to some of the stuff [on the closed session agenda]."

"I am there and willing to conduct the people's business," said Bentley. "I did not vote to shut down the meeting."

"I'm just tired of it," said Kirk. "That's what it gets down to."

On Wednesday morning, McKinney faxed board members, asking if they would prefer to have a meeting on the evening of either Monday, August 10, or Tuesday, August 11. The new meeting's date and time should be announced on Thursday.

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.