Friday, November 10, 2006


BOE to defy Sunshine Law at least until Tuesday

Star-Bulletin reporter Alexandre Da Silva continues to stay with this story. His article this morning, BOE defying state, attorney on disclosure, confirms that the Board of Education has been told by the Attorney General that they have to release information on their vote to fire Jim Shon, the executive director of the Charter School Administrative Office, but that they are not ready to comply yet.

Can you imagine if other state agencies or boards could just pick and choose which laws they will follow and when they will follow them?

It's not as though the BOE is unfamiliar with their responsibilities to conduct their business in full view of the public. I can tell you about one prior request that I filed with the BOE back in 2004. They reacted in a similar way--and they were told what they should have done.

It was the waning days of the Felix Consent Decree. Parents wanted to know the state's position and respond to it, and they had until April 1 to file information with Judge Ezra before the final status conference was held. The BOE was scheduled to be briefed by the Attorney General, and that briefing should have been held in public because the BOE was not a party to the Felix case. Their information session was the same as if some other board had asked to be briefed, and the public was entitled to hear what the AG and others said. They could not and did not justify the executive session as required by the law.

After they failed to respond to my information request, the OIP intervened and required them to release the information. They did not. Finally, after the deadline passed, they released the information. Too late.

So is this deja vu all over again?

The BOE is not acting out of ignorance. Their disregard of the law is willful. They had the opportunity to consult with their deputy AG back in 2004 and should have learned something then. Moreover, OIP reported that it held two trainings for the BOE, on 9/15/04 and again on 2/16/05.

Who knows what the BOE will decide at their planned secret meeting on November 14.

Meanwhile, dissatisfaction grows, and it's likely that some education reform measures will be ready to be introduced this coming legislative session.


So here is a question.

What is the penalty to a board for violation of the law? Does it depend on the original charter? Can the be liable civilly, but not criminally?

Perhaps some legislation might be had to clear this up.

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