Prosecutor: McCall-Donnelley School Board Violated Open Meetings Act | North West
The stories in this regional news summary are taken from weekly newspapers across the region. This is part one, part two to appear in the Sunday’s Tribune.
MCCALL – McCall-Donnelly School Board violated the state’s open meetings law in two meetings by conducting business without a properly noted agenda or meeting minutes, Valley County District Attorney said , Brian Naugle.
Due to the violations, Naugle recommended that MD directors schedule a training session on the specifics of Idaho’s open meetings law.
Meetings at which the violations took place included a council retreat on August 17 and a working session on August 26.
“While the evidence is not clear that these violations were deliberate, they nonetheless erode public confidence because the decision-making process discouraged public input and failed to provide a documentation process that would allow the public to examine. and review the board’s decision, ”Naugle said. in a letter to district attorneys.
Naugle berated the board for its lack of transparency in policy making and for repeatedly not being allowed the public to submit written comments.
Chief Executive Officer Eric Pingrey said the trustees did not violate despite Naugle’s opinion.
“While we may personally disagree with some of the views of the county attorney’s office, we believe all public servants can work to be more transparent and detailed in their duties when serving the community,” Pingrey said.
None of the five directors responded to a request for comment from The Star-News.
As a county prosecutor, Naugle is designated in the Open Meetings Act as the official responsible for enforcing its provisions.
On August 17, MD directors held an annual board retreat. The trustees then considered a mask tenure at a meeting on August 24, which was unsuccessful. A working session was held on August 26 and another meeting was held on August 27, during which rules were passed to require masks for all students and medical school staff to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Three citizens’ complaints were filed on August 30, citing several violations committed by trustees. The council voted on September 13 to say no breaches had occurred.
Naugle’s main criticisms of the board’s actions were that deliberations were conducted at the August 17 meeting with no specific topics on the agenda and no minutes. detailed had not been written.
He also found that the minutes of the August 26 working session did not contain enough detail to meet the requirements of the law.
He found that these actions violated Idaho law because the meetings were not conducted “in a manner that was meaningful to the public.”
Board meetings should be noted with an agenda and calling them a “retreat,” “workshop,” or whatever term does not negate that requirement, Naugle said.
“The agenda should accurately reflect the business to be discussed at the meeting,” he said. “Trustees should avoid deliberating on outstanding issues that are not on the agenda.”
The agenda for the Aug. 17 meeting, which was held at a restaurant in McCall, said “no business will be conducted,” but Naugle said deliberations on a mask warrant or other policy schooling is district business and should be noticed. on an agenda before the meeting.
Even though the board did not initially intend to deliberate on a decision regarding mask policy, there is ample evidence to indicate that it did, Naugle said.
The MD Board of Directors has held an annual retreat at a local restaurant for the past few years. Every retreat agenda and minutes on MD’s website since 2018 has a similar agenda and debriefing.
Despite the flaws in the process, Naugle concluded that the adoption of the district’s COVID-19 mitigation policy on August 27 met the minimum requirements of the law.
“If it weren’t for the fact that the board of directors seems to have respected the minimum steps required to hold the special meeting of August 27, 2021 during which the mitigation policy was voted and adopted by majority, I would be forced to file a complaint to overturn the board’s decision, ”Naugle said in the letter.
– Max Silverson, The Star-News (McCall), Thursday
Wilderness education grants available
Applications for the Connie Saylor Johnson Wilderness Education scholarships are due by Oct. 31, according to Deb Gale, a board member of the Selway Bitterroot-Frank Church Wilderness Foundation which offers the scholarships.
Teachers, schools, libraries, arts organizations, historical societies, museums, non-profit groups or individuals are encouraged to apply for a grant of up to $ 1,000. Examples of the types of projects that grants can fund include: providing outdoor education on backcountry skills for students or community members; integrate the history, science, philosophy and culture of the wilderness into existing school curricula; attend or offer workshops on wilderness or natural ecosystems; and bringing guest speakers into classrooms or communities.
“We are thrilled to help share a love and appreciation for the wilderness and wild places for many generations to come,” said Gale, who encourages people to apply for the opportunity.
The foundation helps the Forest Service manage the Selway-Bitterroot and Frank Church-River of No Return wilderness and surrounding wilderness through fieldwork, public education and partnerships, according to their site. Web.
In 2019, the CFBS established a Wilderness Education Endowment Fund to honor the memory and service of Connie Saylor Johnson. She has worked tirelessly to provide hands-on experiences for children, students and adults across the United States to learn more about the wilderness. Johnson was the foundation’s first field staff, serving on its board of directors from 2009 until his death in 2018.
– Norma Staaf, The Clearwater Progress (Kamiah), Thursday