The Freedom Of Information Act dictates that the School Board can only go into closed meetings for specific purposes and at the end of the meeting, the Board must certify whether or not the topics discussed were for only the stated purposes of going into the closed meeting. (Code 2.2-3712 D)
On Aug 13th, the Board went into a closed meeting for the purpose of a "grievance hearing" for the Superintendent. Va Code 22.1-79 does not allow for this. The reason for the "grievance" was because the Superintendent wasn't pleased with the performance review given to him by Ms. Hughes (even though he still received 100% of his $11,000 bonus). The other reason was because he wasn't pleased with comments made on my social media page (by the way, the School Board attorney has told us that we cannot censor public comments). Rather than calling me and sharing his concerns with me, the Superintendent decided to file a grievance with the Board for a "hostile work environment" that led to these violations of law by the Board.
Additionally, the law states that the Board cannot go into closed session to discipline a fellow Board member. During this closed meeting I was accused of defamation, lying and nefarious actions. The Board chair even had a 2 page resolution drafted by the School Board attorney condemning me and Ms. Hughes. I did not defame, lie or have nefarious actions and I will not sit idly by and have my character assassinated by my colleagues.
At the end of that closed meeting, Ms Hughes, Ms Weems and I voted to not certify the meeting and stated numerous times that conversations were in violation of the law. However, the rest of the Board did vote to certify the meeting.
Our purpose for hiring attorney Kevin Martingayle was to try to get the Board to acknowledge their mistake and to try to prevent future violations of FOIA. Unfortunately at the last meeting, most Board members still state they did nothing wrong. However, they did decide to vote (8-2) to approve this statement: “To the extent that FOIA was violated, the School Board members will not do it again.” (The Board Chair Anderson still won't admit wrongdoing and voted against this statement even though in my opinion she was the biggest offender of the Freedom of Information Act).
The School Board attorney even stated in last week's meeting that it was not in the Board's best interest to go to court and that the Board was "likely to get slapped by the court" if it was taken to court.
At this time, we do not plan to move forward with a suit against the Board but will expect that our colleagues take the law seriously and stop holding conversations behind closed doors in violation of FOIA.