Sunday, June 27, 2010

Grand jury tells Skiatook school board to learn state Open Meeting Act to avoid possible violations

A Tulsa County grand jury investigating wasteful spending by Skiatook Public Schools said Friday the school board "needs to be educated about the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act laws to avoid future potential violations."

So has the board already violated the Open Meeting Act? Unfortunately, we might never know what the grand jury uncovered in this regard.

Any such crimes should not be shrugged off because the school board members were willfully ignorant of the laws.

State law already requires that all newly elected or appointed municipal officials undergo training on the Open Meeting Act. (OKLA. STAT. tit. 11, § 8-114(A)) The same should be required of school board members.

But even without it, they should know what's expected of them under the Open Meeting Act.

The grand jury also recommended that the school board immediately "hire a new attorney who can assist the Board in being more open and communicative to the public."

"The public forum should be routinely incorporated into all School Board meetings," the grand jury also said.

Two indictments by the grand jury remain sealed.

Skiatook parent Rob Ridenour told the Tulsa World he thought the school board often abused the Open Meeting Act by frequently conducting executive sessions.

"Ultimately, executive sessions prevent the fair exchange of information to the citizens. Without input, they can't really serve the interests of the public," he said.

Amen, brother.

Joey Senat, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
OSU School of Journalism

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Differing interpretations of law and policy are welcome. Personal attacks and character assassinations will be rejected.