Office of the Attorney General,
This e-mail is intended to serve as a complaint designed to determine the legality of actions at a meeting held by the Christina School District Board of Education on Tuesday, August 4th, 2015.
Attached is the agenda which was posted in compliance with the 7 day rule for an executive session of the board.
Specifically, the agenda cites that the purpose of the meeting is:
B. PERSONNEL MATTERS
1. Personnel Matters Include a Discussion of the Superintendent’s Competencies and Abilities [See 29 Del C 10004 (b)(9)]
I have two concerns regarding this agenda item:
1) A recent FOIA opinion, posted online here: http://opinions.attorneygeneral.delaware.gov/2015/06/12/15-ib01-061215-foia-opinion-letter-to-mr-weller-re-foia-complaint-concerning-the-appoquinimink-school-board/
contains specific guidance to the school board in Appoquinimink that in the context of a contract discussion that must be public, a discussion that reached into the area of competencies and abilities should not be shielded from the public because the position of Superintendent is not “typical” as an employee and that the “public has a substantial interest in a superintendent’s job performance”. Ultimately, the opinion indicates that the public was “entitled to monitor and observe” the contract discussion even if a portion touched on the superintendent’s “competencies and abilities as superintendent”.
2) By using the words “include a discussion” in the 8/4/15 agenda it may imply, or be inferred, that that there could be other personnel matters to be discussed or items other than the specific description limiting the discussion to “competencies and abilities” when in fact there were no other personnel matters at hand. If FOIA would protect the right of the public to monitor and observe competency and ability discussions for a superintendent outside a contract discussion (opinion desired on this point), then the inaccurate wording suggesting items other than discussing the superintendent’s competency and abilities may have been used to deny the public access as the meeting was held as an executive session and the public was not permitted to attend.
Based on these 2 concerns in combination, I am asking for clarification of the previous FOIA opinion in order to ensure the CSD BOE acted properly. It is my ardent hope that we did so, but I feel we need to confirm this in light of the Appoquinimink FOIA opinion.
Additionally, it has come to my attention (I was unable to attend this meeting due to a work meeting out of state) that the Board held a vote in executive session to prevent a board member from making and audio recording of the meeting (not sure that practice is permitted/not permitted). I believe that all votes must occur in public and not in an executive session. I am seeking to determine if this was a FOIA violation with the expectation that a determination as such would likely not yield a remediation beyond a response indicating the BOE will not hold any votes in executive session.
Board Members in attendance: