School chief should have been
The Jefferson County Board of Education violated Kentucky's open-meeting law by conducting Superintendent Sheldon Berman's evaluation in private, Attorney General Jack Conway said in an opinion issued Tuesday.
The ruling came in response to a complaint The Courier-Journal filed after the school board held Berman's annual evaluation in closed session July 29, despite a 2008 attorney general's opinion stating that such evaluations must be public except when they might lead to discipline or dismissal.
“There's no reason they shouldn't be able to give a truthful, honest evaluation in public,” said Jon Fleischaker, an attorney for The Courier-Journal.
The ruling, which has the force of law, will require the board to conduct its evaluation in the open next year, he said.
Board Chairwoman Debbie Wesslund disagreed with the opinion, saying she believes the district did nothing wrong because discipline against Berman was at least possible at the session. She said she will consult with the board and attorneys before deciding whether to appeal to circuit court.
“We feel confident that we didn't break the law,” she said. “It was not a secret
But Conway's opinion says the board's interpretation of possible disciplinary action was much too broad, and that it “opens the floodgates to tenuous claims based on an agency's desire to shield (itself) from unwanted or unpleasant public input.” ...