August 2, 2012 – Request to the Board
Dear Douglas County School Board Directors:
A key component for building trust and cohesiveness in a school district revolves around transparency and accountability. Many Strong Schools Coalition members have written to us concerned with the lack of transparency and the potential violation of the Open Meetings Law that occurred during last week’s Special Meeting on July 26th. The reason cited by the Board for meeting in executive session was “legal advice regarding statutory notice requirements for coordinating elections.” When the Board returned from executive session approximately 60 minutes later, it immediately took a vote on a proposed resolution to preserve the option for a coordinated election. President Carson made the following public comment:
“There are important educational reform issues in our school district and theses are important to our electorate. Under the law we must reserve a potential spot on the ballot at least 100 days before the election and any final decision on this question will be made by the Board in late August.”
President Carson later informed the media that the Board is still deliberating these issues and cannot comment. The repeated concerns we have received from our members are in relation to how deliberations can be underway that are not held in public. The Board’s executive session on July 26 pertained to the coordinated election requirements – not the deliberations pertaining to the education reform issues.
The law and policy of this state affirm that the formation of public policy is public business and may not be conducted in secret. The intent of the Open Meetings Law is to ensure that the public has access to meetings, including school board meetings, at which public business is considered. The law guarantees that citizens will be given a greater opportunity to become fully informed on issues of public importance so that meaningful participation in the decision-making process may be achieved.
The Strong Schools Coalition is requesting the Douglas County School Board add an agenda item to its regularly scheduled August 7th board meeting. This action will allow the public an opportunity to hear the school board members deliberate whatever measures are under consideration for the upcoming election. By adding this agenda item to the upcoming meeting it will afford the public an opportunity to become informed prior to the Community Engagement meeting scheduled for August 21st.
The public is eager to listen and ready to engage.
Strong Schools Coalition