An investigation by the Kansas Attorney General's Office found that county commissioners committed a technical violation of an open meetings law by failing to include the location of a special meeting in a notice of the meeting.

An investigation by the Kansas Attorney General's Office found that county commissioners committed a technical violation of an open meetings law by failing to include the location of a special meeting in a notice of the meeting.

That is according to two letters sent from Assistant Attorney General Lisa Mendoza to county officials. Mendoza is the director of the Open Government Enforcement Unit of the Attorney General's Office.

Copies of the letters from Mendoza were provided to the Leavenworth Times.

The investigation was initiated by the Attorney General's Office after County Treasurer Janice Van Parys filed a complaint last year about possible violations of the Kansas Open Meetings Act.

Van Parys’ complaint focused on several actions taken by county commissioners in 2016.

Based on the findings of the Attorney General's Office, no formal enforcement action is being taken. Mendoza wrote that the Attorney General's Office was requesting the commission take remedial action to address the technical violation regarding the notice of a Dec. 30, 2016, special meeting.

Mendoza also indicated the Attorney General's Office is leaving open its investigation in regard to one of the other matters raised in Van Parys’ complaint. This issue concerns the Dec. 15, 2016, termination of the treasurer's husband, David Van Parys.

Mendoza indicated issues related to this termination may be closely related or intertwined with a case that is still pending in Leavenworth County District Court. The case concerns a request for a declaratory judgment to invalidate specific county employment contracts.

“We believe the court may make findings of fact in the declaratory judgment case that are relevant to our review of the portion of your complaint concerning Mr. Van Parys’ termination,” Mendoza wrote in a letter addressed to the treasurer.

Mendoza sent a 12-page letter to Janice Van Parys to explain the findings of the investigation. A copy of this letter was sent with a second letter to County Administrator Mark Loughry. Both letters are dated April 12.

Commissioner Bob Holland read from one of the letters sent by Mendoza during a County Commission meeting on Tuesday. Reading from the letter, Holland said that no violations of the Kansas Open Meetings Act were found other than the technical violation related to the notice for a special meeting.

“People file complaints against us, but sometimes there's nothing to it,” Holland said.

Holland is the only commissioner from 2016 who still remains on the board.

Janice Van Parys has had a contentious relationship with Holland in the past.

David Van Parys was terminated Dec. 15, 2016, from his job as the county counselor. After a change in the makeup of the commission, Van Parys was hired by the county to serve as a consultant. He later was hired as the senior county counselor and remains in this position.

The technical violation stemmed from an emergency meeting that was called after door keypads at the Leavenworth County Courthouse were reprogrammed to limit the hours the treasurer could access the building using the keypads.

During the Dec. 30, 2016, special meeting, commissioners voted to remove the restrictions on the treasurer's access.

Notice of the meeting was provided by an email that was sent one hour and 12 minutes before the meeting was scheduled to start.

“We agree that this is an extremely short period of time to receive notice prior to a special meeting,” Mendoza wrote in the letter addressed to Janice Van Parys.

But Mendoza noted that the Dec. 30, 2016, meeting was scheduled before the start of a long holiday weekend and the next regular meeting of the commission was not scheduled to take place until Jan. 5.

“Based on the totality of the circumstances, we conclude that while not desirable, the notice of the special meeting provided here was not unreasonable,” Mendoza wrote.

However, the notice did not state the location of the meeting, which took place at the usual meeting location of the County Commission.

The Attorney General's Office requested that the commission take remedial action to ensure that each meeting notification contains the date, time and location. Commissioners were asked to send a written response by April 27.

Loughry said a response was provided with a promise to include the meeting location in future notices. He said the language used in the notifications also has changed to make it clear that they are notices of public meetings.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR