Anne Arundel vote on school pay raises is upheld

March 18, 2004|By Laura Loh | Laura Loh,SUN STAFF

The state Open Meetings Compliance Board has ruled that the Anne Arundel County school board did not violate sunshine laws when it held a private vote to grant pay raises to school administrators.

The compliance board found that the school board's vote Dec. 3 applied only to five employees and was permissible under the personnel exception of the state Open Meetings Act, which protects the privacy of individual employees.

The compliance board's ruling on Tuesday, requested by The Capital newspaper in Annapolis, relied on affidavits from school board President Paul G. Rudolph, Superintendent Eric J. Smith and the board's lawyer, P. Tyson Bennett.

But the account of the closed meeting recounted by the compliance board differed from one that some school officials offered last month.

Rudolph and Synthia Shilling, an assistant superintendent present at the meeting, said they recalled that the school board voted to grant the raises to two classes of employees - an action that would not be covered by the act's personnel exception.

"I believe there was a vote taken, and it was probably said that we would give the raises to Unit 5 and Unit 6 [administrative employees], excluding certain people," Rudolph said in a Jan. 27 interview.

Bennett said in January that his notes from the closed meeting showed that the school board had acted only on the five specific employees. It voted to exclude them from a school systemwide raise because their salaries recently had been boosted with the assignment of new duties.

Sun researcher Jean Packard contributed to this article.

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