In case you missed it, the Courier-Journal recently published my Op-Ed about “State school board needs open meetings lesson” regarding an on-going problem with the Kentucky Board of Education choosing to ignore an official Open Meetings Decision from the Kentucky Attorney General. That official decision says a state school board committee formed to help find an executive search firm to help locate a new commissioner of education was subject to Kentucky’s Open Meetings Laws but didn’t follow them. As a consequence, most people in Kentucky – media included – were left in the dark about this committee’s activities until after all the decisions had been made. This isn’t the way state agencies are required to operate.
But, the perhaps more serious on-going problem is the Kentucky Board of Education now seems to be acting as though their failure to follow the law does not matter. The board has yet to acknowledge the attorney general’s decision and take meaningful action to insure all board members are aware of their responsibilities under the Open Meetings statutes.
Even worse, the state board isn’t the only education agency in the state to violate the Open Meetings Laws in the current calendar year. In fact, as of November 11, 2015, the attorney general’s web site shows that five of the 15 Open Meetings violations have been committed by education entities: three by local school boards and one by a School Based Decision Making Council in addition to the state board’s own violation (See 15OMD090, 15OMD096, 15OMD113 and 15OMD114 here).
So, it looks like what increasingly is appearing as the state’ board’s arrogance regarding Kentucky’s Open Meetings Laws may now extend to a failure of the state board to take a leadership position to insure that lower-level state education agencies also are aware of, and follow, state statutes.
When the Bluegrass Institute filed our original complaint in this matter with the state board, we asked the board to conduct a training session for its members during a regularly scheduled and webcast meeting. That way, other lower-level education agency members could access the training as well.
So far, our reasonable and helpful suggestion seems to be falling on deaf ears, unfortunately. Meanwhile, a badly needed Open Meetings Law lesson is still going untaught.