Vermont Principals’ Association agrees to open doors and records to public

The Vermont Principals’ Association agreed to voluntarily comply with the state’s sunshine law after a lawmaker proposed a bill to strip the group of its power overseeing interscholastic sports.

The organization was founded to establish rules for school sports, but in recent years it has taken on more responsibility dealing with other extracurricular activities. The legislation was introduced after complaints arose about the association’s handling of a decision in which a student asked to play hockey at a neighboring school that had a shortage of players.

Rep. Cathy Voyer, R-Morristown, proposed the bill that would have stripped the Vermont Principals’ Association of its authority and shifted the responsibility to a new division under the state education department. Although the bill had support, Voyer altered her tactics and suggested an amendment to an appropriations bill that would have required the organization to comply with the state open-meetings and open-records laws.

The association challenged the measures, but then agreed to abide by the laws to diffuse the controversy.

“I want to firmly commit to you that the VPA will formally open all of its rule-making proceedings to any interested members of the public,” the group’s executive director, Scott Blanchard wrote to Rep. Howard Crawford, R-Burke, who is chairman of the House Education Committee.

While the group could still close its meetings to discuss investigations into misconduct and students’ academic records, it must provide agendas in advance to the public.