Acton Forum files SECOND Open Meeting Law complaint

Acton Forum filed a second Open Meeting Law (OML) complaint with the Acton-Boxborough Regional School Committee on June 29, objecting to its June 22 vote to expand a Subcommittee charged with searching for the Interim Superintendent.

The Subcommittee was formed at a prior School Committee meeting and consisted of five School Committee members. Its charge was to conduct a quick search for an Interim Superintendent while a permanent Superintendent search committee would begin work in the Fall. The Interim Superintendent would start as soon as possible and run the School District until a permanent Superintendent would be named, who would presumably start at the beginning of the new school year, July 1, 2018.

To read the complaint, click here: http://www.actonforum.com/sites/default/files/OML_complaint_062917.pdf

The complaint suggests that because of the OML violations, no newly appointed Interim Search Committee members should participate until they are properly added to the Subcommittee. The work of the Subcommittee with the original five School Committee members may continue.

THE VIOLATIONS

The original agenda for the June 22nd School Committee (SC) meeting was posted on June 16 at 5:15 pm. The date and time for all agenda postings are required under the OML. This agenda listed Item 19.1, "Interim Superintendent Search update." An update is typically an oral report to inform the full SC about progress being made by the subcommittee. For a copy of Agenda One, click here: http://www.actonforum.com/sites/default/files/6-22-17_AGENDA_1.pdf

A second agenda was published on 6/20 at 4:30 pm, which was more than 48 hours before the scheduled start of the June 22 meeting. That agenda listed the same item 19.1 but highlighted in yellow eight other changes to the agenda. For a copy of Agenda Two, click here: http://www.actonforum.com/sites/default/files/6-22-17_AGENDA_2.pdf

A third agenda was published on 6/22 at 2:06 pm. It was received by Acton Forum in an email with that date and time stamp, with a subject heading of "Tonight's SC meeting materials". The agenda itself contained no yellow highlighted items and the email stated, "We have a very full agenda for tonight's meeting. I just reposted the materials with the addendum inserted, including a couple of pieces were added in the last 24 hours (not agenda items, but materials). We start at 6:30 with an executive session and hope to be back in open meeting at approximately 7:00 p.m. in the Jr High Library."

Despite the headline and the phrase "not agenda items, but materials", item 19.1 was substantially different. It had been expanded to include three new items, 19.1.1, 19.1.2, and 19.1.3, with 19.1.1 being a vote to expand the membership of the Interim Search subcommittee by three members.

The Open Meeting Law requirement to note the date and time of the revised agenda was ignored, as Agenda Three reported the same information as Agenda Two. For a copy of Agenda Three, click here: http://www.actonforum.com/sites/default/files/6-22-17_AGENDA_3.pdf

Because proper notice had not been given to the public, members of the public were deprived of their opportunity to comment on the proposed changes. When one audience member tried to speak at 11 pm, when this item came up for discussion, he was cut off. The School Committee then proceeded to vote to add three members to the Interim Search subcommittee, one as a voting member.

Because of the Open Meeting Law violations, Acton Forum believes this vote was illegal and must be revoted with proper public notice before any new Subcommittee members may participate or vote on the Subcommittee. Should any members wrongly added to the Subcommittee participate, Acton Forum will file an OML complaint with the Attorney General's office.

Subscribe to the Acton Forum and get our newsletters emailed to you -- FREE! Click Here!

Comments

SC replies to second OML complaint

The SC has responded to the second OML complaint filed by Acton Forum. Acton Forum is working on other issues right now, so we have no further comment at this time, but we wanted to make the School's response public. Here is the link: http://www.actonforum.com/sites/default/files/SC_Response_OML_07212017.pdf

Allen Nitschelm has lived in Acton since 1998 and writes about fiscal issues at the
local and state level. He is a former member of the town's Finance Committee
and publisher of the Acton Forum.