School board hasn't discussed report critical of construction

April 27, 2000|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

A month after receiving an independent report highly critical of school construction projects, the Carroll County Board of Education has yet to meet to discuss investigators' findings or ways to correct remaining problems.

In an interview last week, school board President C. Scott Stone said that he was trying to schedule a closed discussion of the report before or after a work session to be held yesterday afternoon. He said he planned to contact board members that evening to schedule the discussion.

But before the start of yesterday's work session, Stone said he had not managed to find time for the board to discuss the report. Instead, the board voted to go into closed session "to obtain legal advice on the Open Meetings Act, the Public Information Act and personnel items." Only board member Susan W. Krebs voted against the motion.

An hour later, the board momentarily reconvened in "open session" -- in front of two newspaper reporters -- and unanimously voted to go into closed session "to obtain legal advice on pending litigation."

Maryland's open meetings law contains a broad requirement that "public business be performed in an open and public manner" and permits public bodies to meet in closed session under certain exemptions, such as consulting with attorneys to obtain legal advice or discussing labor negotiations.

In a letter from its attorney, The Sun warned the school board that meeting privately to discuss the publicly funded report could violate the law.

The Public Information Act protects the public's access to government documents and materials.

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