District 15 may have violated the open meeting law

Did the St. Francis School Board violate the open meeting law when it appointed new Boardmember David Roberts?

Boardmember Marsha Van Denburgh believes it did.

Van Denburgh based her conclusion on an answer to a school board member’s question in the March-April 2013 edition of Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA) Journal.

The board member for an undisclosed district asked about using secret ballots to narrow the 12 applicants for a board opening down to the top applicants.

The MSBA answer to the question was no because the open meeting law does not allow secret ballots and choosing the applicant must be done during a public meeting. How each board member voted must also be public.

The board did not make public how each member voted Feb. 20 during the special meeting to select a replacement for Matt Rustad, who was removed from the school board for plagiarism. The board violated the open meeting law, Van Denburgh said.

During the selection process, each board member was given a form to rank each of the six candidates.

No roll call vote was taken, nor was how each sitting board member voted made public.

How everyone voted needs to be public, said Van Denburgh.

District administration is investigating whether there was a violation and what it needs to do to remedy the situation, said Superintendent Ed Saxton.

The district will get the ballots from an independent auditor hired by the district to tally the votes, he said.

According to MSBA, no blind ballots are allowed in these situations.

When the board takes a vote, each person must say how they voted, said Greg Abbott, MSBA communications director.

Tammy Sakry is at tammy.sakry@ecm-inc.com

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