Attorney General’s office says votes following executive session must not be secretive

According to a report in the Valdosta Daily Times, the Valdosta Board of Education is in violation of the state’s Sunshine Law because of its ongoing practice of simply voting to “approve the superintendent’s recommendations from executive session,” following its closed door meetings, without informing the public exactly what is being approved.

The Times has urged the BOE to stop the practice and has said the nebulous motions and votes violate the Open Meetings Act.

Now, the Office of the Attorney General has agreed, and notified the board through its attorney to stop the practice, the report in The Times states.

“This is about the public’s right to know and about complying with state law,” Times Editor Jim Zachary said. “We are not against elected officials — we are for the public and have championed the cause of government transparency because it is the law and it is the right thing to do.”

The article stated that Jennifer Colangelo, an attorney in state Attorney General Sam Olens’ office, wrote, “I am requesting that the Valdosta Board of Education change its practices to comply with the Act, by including in its meeting agendas a list of the particular personnel decisions that will be voted on at each meeting. Additionally to comply with the requirements of the Open Meetings Act and appellate direction, the Board should make clear to the public during public votes exactly which decision, including personnel, is being voted on.”