TO BE PUBLISHED
July 18, 1995
IN RE: Barbara Deaton/Breathitt County Board of Education
OPEN MEETINGS DECISION
This matter comes to the Attorney General as an appeal by Barbara Deaton as a result of the written response she received from Hargus Rogers, Superintendent of the Breathitt County School System. Ms. Deaton maintains that the school system should be directed not to meet during the school day and that a reprimand she received for leaving school to attend a meeting should be removed from her personnel file. Her letter of appeal was received on July 7, 1995.
In a letter to Superintendent Rogers, dated June 9, 1995, Ms. Deaton asked that the letter of reprimand of September 19, 1994, be removed from her personnel file as the meeting she attended was held in violation of the Open Meetings Act.
Superintendent Rogers responded to Ms. Deaton in a letter dated June 26, 1995, and denied that the 1994 meeting in question was held in violation of the Open Meetings Act. He stated that most meetings of the school board are not held during school hours but when they are a teacher's first obligation is his or her duties and responsibilities relative to the school system. If a teacher attends a meeting not authorized by the immediate supervisor and/or the superintendent that teacher must "take personal leave or make some type of retribution back to the school."
The duties and responsibilities of the Attorney General relative to handling appeals under the Open Meetings Act are set forth in KRS 61.846(2). The Attorney General is required to review the complaint and denial and issue a written decision which states whether the public agency violated the Open Meetings Act. Thus the Attorney General can only consider whether the public agency's actions were in conflict with or inconsistent with the terms and provisions of KRS 61.805 to KRS 61.850.
The matter of the 1994 reprimand is not an issue which can be resolved or decided under the Open Meetings Act. Whether or not the reprimand was proper is something to be handled by the teacher and the school system in a forum outside of an open meetings proceeding.
KRS 61.820 provides in part that all public meetings of all public agencies shall be held at specified times and places which are convenient to the public. The phrase "convenient to the public" is not defined in the statute.
In 93-OMD-20, a copy of which is enclosed, this office dealt with the question of whether a 9:00 a.m. fiscal court meeting violated KRS 61.820. At page three of that opinion we said in part as follows:
KRS 61.820 provides in part that all meetings of all public agencies shall be held at specified times and places which are convenient to the public. While a 9:00 a.m. starting time may be inconvenient for those who work during the daytime and while that time is apparently inconvenient for Mr. Jones, we cannot conclude in this decision on the basis of what has been made available to this office that 9:00 a.m. is an inconvenient time for the public in Marion County. It may be that evidence could be introduced to support such an allegation but the material available at this time does not establish that 9:00 a.m. is an inconvenient time for fiscal court meetings to be held in Marion County.
Applying the reasoning in that decision to this situation, it is apparent that meetings of the school board held during school hours are not convenient for Ms. Deaton. However, this office cannot conclude in this decision on the basis of the information and facts made available that meetings of the school board held during school hours are inconvenient for the residents of Breathitt County. We, therefore, at this time, cannot conclude that the 1994 meeting of the school board was held at a time which was inconvenient to the public.
A party aggrieved by this decision may challenge it by filing an appeal with the appropriate circuit court within thirty days from the date of this decision. See KRS 61.846(4)(a) and KRS 61.848. Pursuant to KRS 61.846(5), the Attorney General must be notified of any action filed in the Circuit Court, but he shall not be named as a party in that action or in any subsequent proceedings under the Open Meetings Act.
Thomas R. Emerson
Assistant Attorney General
Copies of this decision
have been mailed to:
P.O. Box 474
Jackson, Kentucky 41339
Hargus Rogers, Superintendent
Breathitt County Schools
400 Court Street
P.O. Box 750
Jackson, Kentucky 41339