Friday, July 6, 2012

Yukon school board decides not to appeal open records decision, posts audit online; Open Meeting Act violations remain unresolved

Yukon Public Schools on Friday posted an investigative audit of its Vo-Ag Program after school board members voted not to appeal a judge's decision making the report public.
Canadian County Judge Gary E. Miller ruled June 22 that the audit was not protected by attorney-client privilege because the district had not hired investigator Mark Patzkowski in his capacity as an attorney.
Miller had given the district 30 days to file an appeal. But the school board voted in a special meeting Tuesday not to appeal.
(Read The Oklahoman's coverage of what the audit found.)
Randy and Debra Wright of Yukon filed the open records lawsuit in January after Yukon Superintendent William Earl Denton denied their Open Records Act request.
Sworn depositions taken in the lawsuit revealed several apparent Open Meeting Act violations by the Yukon Board of Education in 2011, including that the:
  • School board members decided through a series of non-public, individual private conversations with Denton to hire someone to investigate the school district’s FFA program.

  • School board didn't publicly post its consent docket;

  • Meeting agenda for May 2, 2011, did not provide the public sufficient actual notice that the board intended to hire Patzkowski to conduct an investigation; and

  • Meeting agendas for Aug. 1, Aug. 23 and Oct. 3, 2011, did not identify items of business for executive sessions to discuss personnel, negotiations and litigation.
Now that the records issue is resolved, the question becomes: What will Canadian County District Attorney Michael Fields do regarding the Open Meeting Act violations by the Yukon school board.

Joey Senat, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
OSU School of Media & Strategic Communications
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.

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