They’ve done it again.
Last year about this time, the South Jetty took the Port Aransas ISD board of trustees to task for what we thought, and still think, is an end-run around the spirit and letter of the Texas Open Meetings Act. At that time, the board chose to meet behind closed doors to talk about who would be picked as the board’s next set of officers.
We objected to that. The section of the law the school district quoted to justify its closed-door session was “… Texas Government Code 551.071 thru 551.083.”
Probably (we said at the time), the board was aiming at section 551.074, which says a government body (including a school board) needn’t hold an open meeting “to deliberate the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline, or dismissal of a public officer or employee.”
We asked several people who should be familiar with the law what they thought. Ed Sterling, who watches governmental affairs for the Texas Press Association in Austin, said the board was not acting properly. A spokesman for the Texas Attorney General’s Office agreed. So did Laura Garza Jimenez, at that time Nueces County Attorney.
We give you all this background in order to report that once again, the board – having not even had an election this time, since no trustees were challenged – has on its agenda a closed session “to consider the following:
“A. Discussion of roles and responsibilities of the board.
“B. Employment of a teacher.”
We have no quarrel with discussing legitimate personnel matters, such as hiring a teacher, in executive session. Such matters deserve privacy. However, we still don’t understand what’s so sensitive about the roles and responsibilities of the school board that they require a secret meeting.
Apparently, we’ll never know. The board remains closed-mouthed.
Last year, we urged the board to embrace transparency in its business. Our position hasn’t changed.
Apparently, neither has the board’s. And that’s too bad, because the board’s business is, after all, our business.
-- Phil Reynolds