Thursday, June 2, 2011

Secret discussions violate the spirit of the Texas Open Meetings Act

I have learned to love the Texas Open Meetings Act.

Since becoming a Trustee I have seen first hand the almost automatic desire of certain Trustees to conduct important public business in private so the public will not know what Trustees said and what they did.

Example, on Tuesday I left the closed executive session because I felt the Texas Open Meetings Act might be violated.  There were discussions about process being held outside of the public view.  Trustees were expressing their opinions.  Nothing that could not have been discussed in full public view.

The Board President appeared after the closed session and open session and later announced the 'decisions' of the Trustees to certain members of the press.  The question is: When and where were those decisions made?  I am a Trustee; and I do not recall any votes being taken on process in open session.  There were certainly discussions and opinions in the secret session but no official action was taken as required by state law.

If no official Board action was taken, by what authority does the President announce decisions that the Board has not officially made in open session?

Dallas ISD Board policy and state law clearly state in plain language:
  • "The Board may act only by a majority vote of the members present at a meeting held in compliance with Chapter 551, Government Code, at which a quorum of the Board is present and voting." BE (Legal)
There is no such thing as consensus decision making behind closed or open doors.  The Board President has no authority to announce decisions the Board has never officially voted on at a duly called Board meeting for that purpose.

The Board President presides - only the full Board decides.

The Texas Open Meetings Act requires public officials to make public decisions in open session so that the public will see and hear the business of the public.

I support the Texas Open Meetings Act.