School Boards Not Complying with Open Meetings Act

School Boards Not Complying with Open Meetings Act

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Most Utah school boards do not fully comply with Utah's Open Meetings Act, a legislative audit released Thursday shows.

The audit found that most school boards do not keep adequate records, do not review meeting minutes and close meetings to the public for questionable reasons, making it difficult to tell if the topic was appropriate for a closed session.

"School boards' actions do not comply with the law and raise concerns that school boards may be circumventing the legislative intent of the open meetings act that the 'people's business' be done openly and in the public," the audit said.

School boards generally follow the procedures of the act for open meetings but not when meetings are closed, according to the audit. The report found school districts vary on how they interpret compliance with provisions of the act, resulting in a variety of closed meeting procedures. School district officials say they have received insufficient and inconsistent training on the legal requirements of closed meetings from the Utah School Boards Association and the Utah State Office of Education.

The report suggests the Legislature may need to clarify provisions of the act.

The Open Meetings Act governs sessions of public bodies and limits reasons they can close meetings to the public, listing procedures they must follow to do so. The report was based on an auditors' review and interviews with staff at 10 Utah school districts.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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