As part of its settlement agreement with the Steamboat Pilot & Today, the Steamboat Springs School District on Thursday released the transcript from an illegal executive session held by a previous School Board in January 2007.
A copy of the transcript is available for download at www.steamboatpilot.com.
On March 26, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that a previous School Board violated Open Meetings Law when it met behind closed doors on Jan. 8, 2007. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the then-controversial staff surveys of district administrators.
The Court of Appeals ruled that the board failed to state that the purpose of the executive session was to discuss the surveys; failed to note that the personnel matter involved then-Superintendent Donna Howell; and failed to announce that the board would confer with its attorney during the executive session.
Open Meetings Law requires that public bodies such as school boards and city councils be as specific as possible in detailing the topic of an executive session. Similarly, the law makes clear the limited number of topics that can be discussed in secret.
In addition to releasing the transcript from the meeting, the School Board agreed to pay $50,000 toward the newspaper's legal fees.
"Our hope is that the release of the meeting transcript brings a close to this unfortunate chapter," Pilot & Today Publisher Suzanne Schlicht said. "What's in the transcript is incidental to the fact that public bodies cannot convene in executive session unless they meet the letter of the law, and the public should expect nothing less.
"We're pleased the current School Board has thus far shown a commitment to openness and transparency, and we expect all other local government bodies to do the same."