At that juncture, Bagley, who was the only reporter from any news outlet in the room, rose to object to the public being ejected. He said, "I must object for the record. The public has a right to be here. You can't close this meeting. The employee wants this hearing to be open. The lawyers are in the room. The Freedom of Information Act makes clear that we have a right to stay." As the exchange unfolded, Bland and Bagley ended up less than one foot apart. However, despite the school board maintaining that a "hearing" was not a "meeting," the public was allowed to stay for the rest of Fear's hearing thanks to Bagley's objection. After a brief recess while Bland and the Board considered what to do, the hearing resumed.
Bagley went on to say, "This should not be interpreted as picking one side or another. I am standing for the rule of law. Mr. Bland was incorrect in this case. I remain an ardent support of the public school system. I recognize that financial difficulties must be overcome and that means serious cuts. These are not easy decisions, but the answer is not to circumvent procedures to shut out the public. We don't live in a dictatorship. This is still the United States of America. Let's follow the law. Let's follow the proper procedures. Then, let's rally behind the district with a loud Go Cougars! I wish nothing but the best for our public schools in the Helena-West Helena School District."