Lawyer: D161 Board Did Not Violate State's Open Meetings Act

The Summit Hill school board met the requirements for posting the agenda of a Sept. 17 special meeting, the district's attorney said Friday.

The Board did not violate the state's Open Meetings Act when it called a Sept. 17 special meeting, said the district's attorney at Friday's board meeting.

Friday's session was a continuation of the .

At the Sept. 28 meeting, board member Sean William Doyle said he thought the Sept. 17 special meeting violated the state's Open Meetings Act because the agenda was posted online less than 48 hours in advance. According to a screenshot of the PDF posting provided by Doyle, the agenda was published online at 11:34 a.m. Sept. 15, and the meeting was scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Sept. 17. Doyle also said district policy was violated because he was informed of the meeting less than 48 hours before it.

The agenda, however, was posted on the door of the district's administrative offices by 11:30 a.m. Sept. 15, following criteria set by the act, said Scott Nemanich, the attorney representing the district. Also, the time the Sept. 17 meeting actually started eliminated any violations of the Open Meetings Act, he added.

"The minutes of the meeting show you didn't begin at 11:30 on that Saturday," Nemanich said. "You began at 11:40. You're beyond the 48 hours. ... Thus, while the timing is exceedingly close to the bare minimum required, it does appear that the technical legal requirements of ... the (Open Meetings Act) were met."

Doyle also cited another example of a special meeting agenda not being posted for at least 48 hours beforehand. According to a screenshot of the PDF for a July 7 special meeting, the agenda was not posted on the district's website until 7:34 a.m. on July 6.

Nemanich said there wasn't enough information to determine whether the July 7 agenda was posted properly. Interim Superintendent Barb Rains said a screenshot of the agenda showed it was created within the allotted 48 hours. However, Tammy Miller, the superintendent's secretary responsible for posting the agenda, said she couldn't remember when she placed the agenda on the administration offices door, Rains added.

"Bottom line is, Mr. Doyle has a right to be concerned, but if we don't have anyone to say it wasn't posted, then I don't have any evidence it wasn't posted," Nemanich said.

The July 7 special meeting at , while the Sept. 17 special meeting created a new assistant superintendent position, .

Going forward, Nemanich said the board should rework its policy when it comes to posting special meeting agendas.

"While I understand that things happen, in the future, let's not even get close to the line," he said. "Instead of 48 (hours), I want 49, minimum. Things happen, but let's try to make it 49 hours, so there's nothing close."

Doyle, however, said he disagreed with parts of Nemanich's evaluation and told the attorney he might seek his own legal opinion, paying for it out of his pocket. After the meeting, Doyle said he still needed time to digest the information Nemanich presented the board before he would make a decision on hiring his own lawyer to see if the board violated the Open Meetings Act.

john bruno October 03, 2011 at 12:19 PM
Sean Doyle should seek his own attorney's advice and then resign himself from the Board and take his "buddy" with him.
tim gaffney October 03, 2011 at 01:37 PM
Ok so you are thinking about legal action against your own board? If that is what you are going to do Mr Doyle. Keep spending the districts money for legal action. Becuase you did not hear the lawyer say he has seen it before, a Judge would Laugh and you would waste the courts time. Bring it on Mr Doyle
Joe Vince (Editor) October 03, 2011 at 02:28 PM
@Tim: To clarify, Doyle did NOT say he was taking legal action against the board. Just that he would seek another legal opinion to see if the act was violated. If he took action against the board in terms of the Open Meetings Act, I would imagine that he would be as responsible for any violation since he's a board member. But that's just my reading of the situation from what I heard at Friday's meeting. I wouldn't take this last part to the bank. Joe Vince Local editor, Frankfort
SD 161 Parent October 03, 2011 at 03:06 PM
Even if he gets his own lawyer, the school still has to pay Nemanich to reply to whatever Doyle's attorney finds out. What real harm was done?? If you are on the Board, you are to look out for the children of the District...not just to get in the paper. You are wasting taxpayer money and taking away needed money for the schools. Let's not get in debt like SD 159.
Kerri U October 03, 2011 at 04:01 PM
Stop wasting the taxpayers money on petty arguments to try and justify your existence on the board, Mr. Doyle. Also, you won't be there much longer with the 3rd grade mentality you have been displaying and having it appear in the local papers makes it even better. Do you feel your position on the board slipping through your fingers yet because of your immaturity??
taxpayer October 04, 2011 at 01:57 PM
Well said Mr. Bruno!!
Kathie October 07, 2011 at 08:16 PM
The law firm that the board is retaining is an excellent and reputable firm. They have been retained and have advised on issues a lot bigger than the IOMA! If the attorney says there is not evidence to make a deal out of what happened--- the board member should respect that!


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