Every State in our Union has laws to protect the citizens and we have a unique one that pertains to open meetings by governing bodies. This law pertains to rules and regulations that must be followed and concern city councils, school boards, fire districts, etc. Included in the rules is the provision that the press is allowed to attend not only the regular sessions but the executive sessions as well, unless the agenda includes disciplinary discussion of a student, or labor negotiations with an employee. Also, items not on the published agenda may not be considered.
I say this rule is unique in Oregon as there are a number of states that do not give this protection afforded by this open meeting rule. Allowing the press to attend guarantees that we citizens can and will be informed of all proceedings and eliminates most mismanagement and other actions that directors could take.
Obviously, there should be no secrets or under-the-table actions taken by a board that could be withheld from the citizenry involved.
The Creswell School Board has a rule that they themselves enacted. It is Code BDC, adopted in 1995 and revised on Nov. 9, 2016. I quote the specific portion concerning the press: ”Members of the press may attend executive sessions, except those matters pertaining to:
”Deliberations with a person designated by the board to carry on labor negotiations.
”Hearings on the expulsion of minor students or examination of confidential medical students, including that student’s educational program; and
”Current litigation or litigation likely to be filed if the member of the news media is a party to the litigation or employee, agent or contractor of a news media news organization that is a party to the litigation.”
Furthermore, The Oregon Attorney General’s Public Records and Meetings Manual published in 2014, Section 11.E.4 specifically covers the presence of the press at executive sessions.
I don’t know what the School Board was concerned about or were trying to hide when they excluded The Chronicle reporter from their executive session, but it is a matter of transparency, honesty and honor. I am concerned that their actions may not be aboveboard.
Who is guarding the henhouse?