By July 5, 2016 Read More →

Braxton Citizens’ News: Braxton County B of E must follow open meetings law

By Ed Given, editor of the Braxton Citizens’ News:

Board of Education needs to work on its agenda: 

I tried to diplomatically bring the issues concerning errors in the way the Braxton County Board of Education’s agenda is handled to the attention of those in charge. After Monday morning’s meeting, those efforts obviously failed.

The meeting was well underway before the agenda was made available to those in attendance. The revised version had names in position that were previously listed on earlier version for employment, which is legal.

Unfortunately there were no less than three brand new items added.
State Code sets the parameters by which the agenda is to be released. Legislators formulated these rules so the public would know what their elected officials had on their plate before going to a meeting.

I honestly believe that following these guidelines is crucial to maintianing an open government. Unfortunately, our Board of Education isn’t following these rules.

Yes, I realize that it is the Superintendent who makes these changes, that’s why I initially addressed by concerns to him.

However, it is the Board of Education’s agenda and they are ultimately responsible. Items cannot just arbitrarily be added with no notice. State code is quite clean. In order to add an item to a public body’s agenda without at least a 24 hour notice, there must be an emergency. That emergency must be defined before the item can be considered. If that meaning is challenged and a court determines that there was not a true emergency, that action will be ruled null and void.

Then there is also the matter of releasing the revised agenda after the meeting starts. I am certain that no one will find where that is permitted in state code. 

I am not looking to interfere with the smooth operation of our educational system, but the law is the law. This Board of Education, elected by the citizens of this county, must be a body that will follow the law. All the laws; not just those that are convenient.

More forethought should be put into formulating the agenda. Better communication between the parties involved could probably right this wrong. Regardless, it is time for the members of the Board of Education to insist that these laws are followed and the public knows in advance what will be discussed at their meeting. Advance is not 17 minutes after the scheduled start time of the meeting either.

Two new members will take their seats before the next meeting. I can only hope that their addition will bring about a positive change. When it comes to the agenda and compling with State Code, change is a must.

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