A North Carolina school board tried to withhold the minutes of a closed-door discussion about the school superintendent's employment contract, claiming the minutes were a "personnel record." But a state appeals court disagreed. The ruling is a reminder that, despite what school lawyers often insist, not everything about personnel decisions is off-limits to journalists' scrutiny.
The New York City Department of Education has directed school principals to ignore a state court decision holding that schools' decision-making bodies are subject to the state's open meetings law.
School boards and other government bodies required to admit the public to their meetings have come up a cute, but not especially persuasive, way of doing their business behind closed doors: By not calling their meetings "meetings."When a bunch of government officials sit around a table and talk about government business, common sense, Webster's dictionary and 20-20 vision say that's a "meeting." Regrettably, some government officials who distrust the public's ability to maturely deal with information -- or who realize their behavior is so deplorable that it can't withstand public scrutiny -- will go to extraordinary lengths to argue otherwise.They'll claim to be holding a "working session" or some other euphemism that sounds less "meeting-like." That may be reassuring for their consciences, but it's rarely a legally adequate justification to shut the public out.Recently, a Rhode Island judge ordered that state's Board of Education to invite the public to an "informational retreat" where board members were scheduled to discuss high school graduation requirements and standardized testing.
Over the weekend, quite a few stories involving student rights caught our eye. In case you missed them over the long holiday, here's everything you need to know:
- In New York, a high school senior was suspended after he started a hashtag for students to discuss the school district's budget, which failed to get voter approval last week.
Camera-shy government officials sometimes balk at allowing video recording of meetings that are otherwise open to the public.
In their quest to conceal the selection of college presidents from the public's inquiring eyes, state officials are taking increasingly extreme and desperate measures.
Thirteen days after Maryland's Board of Regents took a monumental vote to switch athletic conferences behind closed doors without public notice, we still do not have a legitimate explanation.
We were more than a little alarmed when we saw this story yesterday, about a search for the new president of the Louisiana State University system.
The good news for public access to government meetings: A New Jersey court says Rutgers University trustees failed to give proper advance notice of a closed-door "executive session," and discussed matters in that session that should've been deliberated in the open.The bad news: Nothing can be done about it.A disgruntled attendee sued after Rutgers' Board of Governors held a four-hour closed session in September 2008 preceding the board's regularly scheduled business meeting.The published notice of the meeting said only that the board would be going into executive session to discuss contract negotiations and other attorney-client matters.
When I was a reporter in Florida covering that state's (now-defunct) Board of Regents, a remarkable statistical oddity dawned on me.