School Board doesn't say what they are deliberating about


HomePennsylvania Open Government ForumOpen Meetings HelpSchool Board doesn't say what they are deliberating about

This topic contains 4 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  johnmathew 1 month, 3 weeks ago. This post has been viewed 443 times

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  • #7648

    Except for immediately (less than 5 minutes) prior to the Public Comment session of voting meetings, our School Board only discloses general categories of Agenda items. “Approval of staffing changes,” “Approval to purchase IT equipment,” etc is all that appears on agendas and the details of these “items” are never read aloud, displayed, or disseminated before, during, or after the Committee Meetings where deliberation and discussion should take place.

    Unless a Member holds an item out for discussion, the public has absolutely no idea what is being moved or discussed. Even if it’s held out for discussion, we frequently only know the question and answer, not what it is specifically regarding.

    While it seems to be a clear violation of the spirit of the law, is the Solicitor correct that it’s not, technically, a “violation” because they do disclose everything immediately before taking a vote?

    She has said that Committee Meetings are “working meetings” and they don’t have to tell the public anything more than the “type” of item on the Agenda. I disagree that she is applying the term “working meeting,” as defined in the Act, correctly, but is the balance of her argument correct?

    We have a new Solicitor and Superintendent, both of whom have rich histories of slashing staff and decimating Special Education.

    At previous voting meetings, they were adding items to the agenda AFTER public comment on agenda items, and not disclosing the details of what they were voting on. They were cutting Special Ed positions. I made a small stink over that and, so far, they haven’t tried it again.

    But I’m sure this new tactic is my payback for holding them to their obligations to be “open.” They are trying to prevent me from researching the issues upon which they are deliberating and from gathering members of the public concerned about those issues so that we can make reasonable, informed, & persuasive comments.

    I can’t afford an attorney to make them hold transparent, participatory, democratic meetings. I really don’t want them fined & they aren’t voting (anymore) w/o some meager offer to comment, so there isn’t anything to “overturn.” I just want them to have “open meetings:” where the public knows what is being moved, seconded, held out, discussed, or not discussed so that I can actually participate in them.

    Am not crazy, right? And even if I’m not crazy on my issue, am I crazy to think I can actually do something to change this?

    If I can’t change it, I fear for what will happen to our children as I’m certain this change is in preparation for something really big and nasty they are dragging down the pipeline to our schoolchildren.

    Thank you in advance!

    #7651

    rhjannini
    Participant

    you need to be recording these meeting – at public comment, ask how board members are in sync on what is being voted on, how citizens can be assured that elected officials are fully informed on matters being voted on or the use of public funds, and of course the requirement of public discussion.

    The Sunshine Law requires “comment on matters of concern, official action or deliberation which are or may be before the board or council prior to taking official action.” stressing PRIOR TO TAKING OFFICIAL ACTION may be a way to interject an more descriptive explaination

    #7721

    Riley Kennion
    Participant
    #7722

    Riley Kennion
    Participant
    #7736

    johnmathew
    Participant

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