Hesperia Unified School District school board meetings end almost precisely at 10:30 p.m. on meeting nights. To go longer requires a special vote by the board, and it's been more than a year since such an extension has been approved. Under normal circumstances, meetings begin at 6 p.m., giving board members four and a half hours of open meeting time to complete the agenda.

Tuesday night (the meeting was bumped from Monday due to the Labor Day holiday), the meeting ended shortly after 10:30 p.m., but only a half-hour of business was done by that time.

The 6 p.m. start time is actually only the start of the public portion of the meeting. The board starts work at 4 p.m., dealing with closed session business (including discussion of personnel issues, lawsuits and student discipline issues) behind closed doors.

On Tuesday, the board left closed session at 6 p.m. to hear from ASB representatives from local high schools, who make presentations to the board about current events at their schools on the first meeting of every month. This time, as sometimes happens, after the high school presentations were made, the board went back into closed session, for two more hours.

At 8:30, the board returned from closed session and took up what is normally a momentary issue: making any changes to the proposed nine-page agenda.

Board member Hardy Black handed out a document redoing the entire agenda, moving around whole categories of board business and shifting around individual items within a category.

Board vice-president Lee Rogers, who created the original agenda, was offended, and argued with Black and board member Robert Kirk.

"You've decided that it's OK that I sit here for this interim period of time, so long as you still call the shots," Rogers told Kirk.

"I don't know where this is coming from," he replied.

"It's coming from me, Robert," she said.

Kirk had previously been the board's president, and had been the lightning rod for criticism of the board, before stepping down as president in April. But according to Rogers and board member Chris Bentley, Kirk is still calling the shots as the leader of the controlling three-member majority, a coalition that Rogers was once part of.

"You want to set the agenda, and no one else can," said Rogers. "Like you've told me, 'when you look at me, you're looking at three.'"

The fight over rearranging the agenda lasted almost an hour. At 9:30 p.m., the board opened the floor to comments from the public, which went on for another 30 minutes.

At 10 p.m., four hours after the theoretical start of the open portion of the meeting, the board got down to business, using Black's blueprint. Nine of the 21 items the board had to vote on were shuttled off to the consent agenda -- multiple, typically non-controversial items that can be collectively approved with a single vote by the board -- five were voted on and seven items were left unfinished, in addition to two items left over from the board's July 13 meeting.

Nine action items remain on the agenda after Tuesday's meeting. The board is scheduled to meet in a special meeting at 7:30 a.m. on Friday to vote on the issues, which include setting the board's goals and objectives for the 2009-2010 school year.

The next regular meeting of the HUSD school board will be held on October 5 at 6 p.m. in the HUSD Educational Support Center Annex, 15576 Main Street.

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/hesperiastar.