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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Board president reviews open meetings law

  • Leavenworth school board President Mike Robinson said he doesn't think members of the board violated the state's open meetings law when they recently tried to schedule a special meeting. But he's concerned they came "perilously close."
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  • Leavenworth school board President Mike Robinson said he doesn't think members of the board violated the state's open meetings law when they recently tried to schedule a special meeting. But he's concerned they came "perilously close."
    That's why he reviewed the Kansas Open Meetings Act when board members met this week.
    The law requires government bodies in the state such as school boards and city councils to make their meetings open to the public.
    The law prohibits a majority of school board members from discussing district business outside of their open meetings. But the law allows the school board to vote during open meetings to go behind closed doors to discuss certain topics in executive session.
    Robinson said in a telephone interview that he wants to make sure the board never violates the law.
    He said the issue of the open meetings law came up as members of the board recently tried to arrange a special meeting. They wanted to discuss something that had happened during a Jan. 28 meeting.
    Under district policy, a special meeting can be called by the president or joint action of three board members.
    As members tried to set up the meeting, there were at least two emails sent by board members to the entire board, Robinson said.
    He said he doesn't know who replied to the emails or if board members had conversations about the meeting.
    Ultimately, the special meeting was not scheduled. Robinson said the board couldn't find four members to go to the meeting. Four members are required for quorum.
    Robinson said the presentation about the open meetings law he made to the board Monday contained information he found on the Kansas attorney general's website.
    According to the presentation, board members can privately discuss when to hold meetings. Discussing the time and place of a meeting and sharing what the topic of the meeting will be is not considered a violation. But this type of communication is discouraged because of the temptation to discuss other things or the appearance of impropriety.
    Robinson said it creates an appearance that something is amiss.
    "And that's why it's not recommended that we do it," he said in the telephone interview.
    Even though the special meeting was never held, board member Mo Minchew raised the topic of the Jan. 28 meeting when the board met Monday.
    During the January meeting, board members voted to extend the contract of Superintendent Kelly Crane. Minchew raised this issue Monday when board members were asked to approve the minutes from the earlier meeting.
    Minchew said he'd thought board members only were going to discuss the superintendent's evaluation that night.
    He said extending the contract hadn't been on the agenda.
    Page 2 of 2 - Robinson said Monday that he had checked with an attorney with the Kansas Association of School Boards, who indicated there was nothing wrong with the board's action.
    Robinson said school boards aren't required to have agendas.
    At one point, Crane asked board members to continue their discussion about her contract extension in executive session. This occurred after Minchew mentioned specific conditions of the contract.
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