Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Colorado paper wins $50,000 in legal fees from school board that illegally closed a meeting

The school board in Steamboat Springs, Colo., has agreed to release the transcript of an illegal meeting and pay $50,000 in legal fees to the local daily newspaper, which warned the board not to hold the meeting and challenged it in court afterward.

The state Court of Appeals ruled in March that the board violated the state open-meetings law in 2007 by holding a closed session to discuss staff surveys of administrators and the performance of the superintendent, saying the session was "to discuss a personnel matter regarding 'access to information' and failing to say it would consult its attorney during the session, Jack Weinstein reports for the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

Three of the five board members at the time are no longer on the board. One of them cast the only vote against the deal with the newspaper, saying "I look at this as an in-your-face move by them to take $50,000 away from our students." The paper's editor, Brent Boyer, "said it’s the former School Board, not the newspaper, that has cost the district and taxpayers," Weinstein writes. Reader comments were running 4-1 in favor of the paper at 5 p.m. EDT today. (Read more)

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