Friday, October 21, 2005

Open Government up to the Minutes

As promised, I have followed up on the written minutes of the SAISD Board meeting. I picked up copies of the October agendas and minutes (still draft, as they need to be approved at a November meeting), scanned them in, and posted them as PDF's here on my website. Contrary to what I was told, the October 10th minutes were more than just start and stop times and a list of attendees. There was a description of action, which consisted of

"2. Review Agenda Proposed For October 17, 2005 Board Meeting (attached) Presenter: Dr. Pugh

The Board reviewed and discussed the proposed agenda for October 17, 2005.

Item number 18 will be moved from an action item to a report item for the regular meeting on October 17, 2005."

This might have been fine, except the October 17th agenda was not included when I asked for the October 10th minutes, even though it is listed as an attachment and should be supplied as part of the minutes.

I also found the October 10th agenda very light, just listing a review of an as yet unposted agenda as the only item. Even the agendas listed on the SAISD website didn't list all 20 items listed on the agenda.

After reading the agendas and minutes, I am concerned that the agendas and minutes for the October 10th workshop meeting probably don't meet the requirements of the open meetings act. To quote for the Texas AG's Open Records Made Easy site: "The Open Meetings Act requires that the posted notice of an open meeting contain the date, hour, place and a description of each subject to be discussed at the meeting. Texas courts have interpreted this to mean that the notice must be sufficient to alert the public, in general terms, of the subjects that will be considered in the meeting. Descriptions such as "old business," "new business," "personnel matters," and "litigation matters" are usually not sufficiently detailed to meet the requirements of the Act." The agenda and the minutes of the October 10th meeting don't meet this requirement without an additional document. They should be complete without the need for the October 17th agenda being supplied.

So it appears that the information required by the open meetings act is being kept and available, but it probably doesn't meet the requirements that the agendas and minutes contain sufficient detail within themselves. The October 17th agenda should have been included in the body of the October 10th agenda, and should have been included and anotated in the body of the October 10th minutes. It is obvious that there are some changes that need to be made by the SAISD School Board to really comply with the open meetings act.


  1. Item 19 in the October 17th Minutes concerns me.
    "19. Announcements
    Presenter: Board President
    9:20 PM
    A. October 24,2005 5:30 p.m. - Code Of Conduct Workshop
    B. November 7, 2005 5:30 p.m. - Workshop With Joe McMeans
    C. November 14, 2005 5:30 p.m. - Pre-Agenda Workshop
    D. November 21, 2005 5:30 p.m. - Regular Board Meeting
    If items A. and B. have a quorum of the board present, they have to comply with the open meetings act. Will have to check to see if agendas are being posted.

  2. Keep tripping over interesting information. This from Texas Government Code:
    "§ 551.052. School District: Special Notice to News Media
    (a) A school district shall provide special notice of each meeting to any news media that
    (1) requested special notice; and
    (2) agreed to reimburse the district for the cost of providing the special notice.
    (b) The notice shall be by telephone or telegraph."