August 14, 1996

In re: LaMar Bryan/Christian County Board of Education

Open Meetings Decision

This matter comes to the Attorney General as an appeal by LaMar Bryan, City Editor, Kentucky New Era, in connection with his complaint against the Christian County Board of Education. Mr. Bryan maintains in part that the Board of Education has not responded to his written complaint.

In a letter to Christian County Board of Education, Dan Thomas, Board Chairman, dated June 28, 1996, Mr. Bryan challenged the Board's decision to go into closed session during its June 20, 1996 meeting to discuss advice from an attorney regarding a proposed amendment to the school system's drug testing policy.

The letter of appeal from Mr. Bryan to this office, received July 31, 1996, stated in part that, “I wrote a letter June 28 to school board chairman Dan Thomas formally challenging the appropriateness of a closed session and have yet to receive a response from Thomas or the board.”

On August 1, 1996, this office sent a copy of a “Notification of Receipt of Open Meetings Appeal by Attorney General” to both Mr. Bryan and Mr. Thomas, Board Chairman, Christian County Board of Education. Thus, the Christian County Board of Education was 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 received 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 Christian County 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. Bryan, dated June 28, 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. Bryan relative to his complaint of June 28, 1996, addressed to the Chairman of the Board of Education. See 96-OMD-154, a copy of which is enclosed.

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

Attorney General

Thomas R. Emerson

Assistant Attorney General


Copies of this decision

have been distributed to:

LaMar Bryan

City Editor

Kentucky New Era

1618 East Ninth Street

P.O. Box 729

Hopkinsville, KY 42241-0729

Dan Thomas

Board Chairman

Christian County Board of Education

200 Glass Avenue

Hopkinsville, KY 42240