Morgan County's school board is again under investigation over allegations that it has been illegally conducting business behind closed doors in violation of the state's open meeting laws.
Meantime, School Board President Earl McCain said the possibility of some kind of action is being considered against those who purportedly breached the confidence of board executive sessions. He also denies the board has violated the Utah Open Meetings Act.Morgan resident Janet Jacobson filed the complaint with the county attorney's office, saying she feels nothing has been done to stop the district from holding secret meetings, one of which allegedly involved her being discussed as a "radical detractor."
Last year, County Attorney Dwight King investigated the board for holding secret sessions. As a result of that probe, he issued a letter to the board demanding it conduct its business in public.
In her complaint, Jacobson states, "If the proper actions had been taken in 1987 concerning the questionable executive sessions held by the school board, these executive sessions would not have been allowed."
Jacobson's allegations center on an Oct. 18 meeting in which an executive session agenda item states, "There needs to be a jointly agreed-upon procedure for dealing with our minority of radical detractors so as not to impact on our conducting school business."
Under the state law, public bodies may hold executive sessions only to discuss the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of an individual employed by the agency; strategy sessions with respect to collective bargaining, litigation, or purchase of real property; discussion regarding deployment of security personnel or devices, and investigative proceedings regarding allegations of criminal misconduct.
All other deliberations and decisions are to be conducted in open meeting, the law says.
Jacobson said she obtained the agenda at the district office after McCain and other board members confirmed she was discussed.
McCain at first said he had no comment on whether Jacobson was discussed in the Oct. 18 meeting, but later said she was mentioned as "a member of the public.
"I wouldn't label her a radical detractor, but one of the people we're interacting with," as part of evaluations of personnel and how they get along with the public.
McCain said the board conducts executive sessions a majority of the time it meets for regular meetings, specifically to deal with "continuing problems in the district."
The main problem facing the district are people who "complain and gripe," but don't take their complaints to people who can deal with the problem, he said.
Other items included on the Oct. 18 executive session agenda were a discussion on the need for a full-time business administrator position, the visibility of the superintendent, and administrators appearing to be more amiable and working cooperatively.
None of those items appears to qualify as a topic for closed session.
McCain said the all the agenda items related directly to the evaluation of Superintendent Joseph Ball or the procedures for evaluating district personnel, and therefore fall under the provision of discussing the character and competence of those people.
King said he has asked Sheriff Bert Holbrook to investigate the complaint to determine whether a violation of the law has occurred.