Tuesday, October 13, 2009

School board violated open meetings act

The Spencer County Board of Education violated Kentucky's Open Meetings Act by evaluating its superintendent in a closed-door session, Circuit Court Judge Charles Hickman has ruled.

The decision upheld an opinion by the attorney general's office that had been challenged by the school board.

The board conducted its mandatory annual evaluation of Superintendent Charles Adams in a closed session in June 2008. Board member Sandy Clevenger, who voted against the motion to adjourn to an executive session to discuss the evaluation, asked the attorney general whether the session complied with the state law. The opinion issued by the attorney general's office, which has the force of law unless overturned in circuit court, said the superintendent's personnel evaluation must be conducted in public. The school board challenged the ruling, supported by the state School Board Association, Board of Education, Department of Education and the Association of School Administrators.

"The exceptions to the Open Meetings Act are to be strictly construed in light of the decided preference that the public's business be performed before the eyes of the public," Judge Hickman wrote in his decision. "The Court finds no error in the AG's reasoning or conclusions."

Hickman turned down Clevenger's request for damages and attorney fees, saying the decision to hold a closed session was made in good faith and not in willful violation of the Open Meetings Act.

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