NOT TO BE PUBLISHED
July 12, 1996
In re: James P. Rawlings, Jr./Bath County Board of Education
OPEN MEETINGS DECISION
This matter comes to the Attorney General as an appeal by James P. Rawlings, Jr. in connection with his complaint against the Bath County Board of Education. Mr. Rawlings maintains in part that the Board of Education has not responded to his written complaint.
In a letter to the Bath County Board of Education, Carroll Otis, Chairman, dated June 19, 1996, Mr. Rawlings alleged in part that he observed what appeared to be closed sessions before the regular meetings of the Board of Education which he said were in violation of the Open Meetings Act.
The letter of appeal from Mr. Rawlings to this office, received June 27, 1996, stated in part that, The local board has not responded to this letter of complaint, either by stating that they will correct their action, or that their interpretation of the cited statutes is different.
On June 27, 1996, this office sent a copy of a Notification of Receipt of Open Meetings Appeal by Attorney General to both Mr. Rawlings and Mr. Otis of the Bath County Board of Education. The Board of Education was thus afforded another opportunity to respond but nothing has been received as of the date on which this decision was prepared.
KRS 61.846(1) provides in part as follows relative to a complaint under the Open Meetings Act and the response required by the public agency:
The person shall submit a written complaint to the presiding officer of the public agency suspected of the violation of KRS 61.805 to 61.850. The complaint shall state the circumstances which constitute an alleged violation of KRS 61.805 to 61.850 and shall state what the public agency should do to remedy the alleged violation. The public agency shall determine within three (3) days, excepting Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, after the receipt of the complaint whether to remedy the alleged violation pursuant to the complaint and shall notify in writing the person making the complaint, within the three (3) day period, of its decision.
The Board of Education is obviously a public agency (KRS 61.805(2)(c)) and thus subject to the terms and provisions of the Open Meetings Act (KRS 61.805 to KRS 61.850).
The letter of complaint submitted by Mr. Rawlings, dated June 19, 1996, was sufficient under KRS 61.846(1) to invoke and bring into play the terms and provisions of the Open Meetings Act.
KRS 61.846(1) mandates that a school board respond in writing within three business days, after receipt of the complaint, to the person submitting the complaint against such a public agency. Failure to do so constitutes a violation of the Open Meetings Act. The Board of Education should immediately respond in writing to Mr. Rawlings relative to his complaint of June 19, 1996, addressed to the Board of Education. See 93-OMD-61 and 93-OMD-77, copies of which are enclosed.
In connection with the matter of public officials gathering in a closed room prior to an announced public meeting, a copy of 93-OMD-20 is enclosed. That decision may be of some interest and benefit to the parties to this appeal but that precise issue cannot be formally decided at this time as the public agency has not responded to the complaint presented.
A party aggrieved by this decision may appeal 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 proceeding under the Open Meetings Act.
A. B. Chandler III
Thomas R. Emerson
Assistant Attorney General
Copies of this decision
have been submitted to:
James P. Rawlings, Jr.
814 Ridge Road
Owingsville, Kentucky 40360
Bath County Board of Education
Carroll Otis, Chairman
P.O. Box 409
Owingsville, Kentucky 40360