May 5, 1997

In re: Greg Hunsaker/Henderson County Board of Education, Local Planning Commission

Open Meetings Decision

This matter comes to the Attorney General as an appeal by Greg Hunsaker in connection with his complaint against the Henderson County Board of Education, Local Planning Committee.

Mr. Hunsaker had prepared a letter to the Chairman of the Local Planning Committee complaining about a meeting that committee had held on January 14, 1997. He intended to present the letter to the committee's chairman during that portion of the school board's meeting on March 13, 1997, devoted to the consideration of a plan developed by the local planning committee. A school board member accepted the letter since the committee chairman was not at the meeting and indicated that the letter would be given to the committee chairman.

Receiving no response to his letter, Mr. Hunsaker, on March 21, 1997, mailed by certified mail a copy of his letter of complaint to the committee chairman at his home address. A copy of the complaint had previously been mailed to the committee chairman at the board of education on February 27, 1997, but it was returned by a representative of the schools because the committee chairman "is not an agent of the Henderson County School system."

An appeal was received by this office on April 21, 1997, which stated in part that no response to the letter of complaint has been received from the chairman of the planning committee.

KRS 61.846(1) sets forth the duties and obligations of both the complaining party and the public agency in connection with a complaint registered under the Open Meetings Act. The written complaint to the presiding officer of the public agency shall state the circumstances which constitute an alleged violation of the Open Meetings Act and what the public agency should do to remedy the alleged violation. While this office cannot decide the question raised on its merits, in view of the lack of facts and information furnished, it can be stated that the complaining party has at least satisfied the statutory requirements relative to the making of a complaint.

The statute requires that the public agency, within three business days after the receipt of the complaint, notify the complaining party in writing whether it intends to correct the situation set forth in the complaint. If the public agency denies the allegations set forth in the complaint the agency must set forth in its written response a statement of the specific statute supporting the public agency's denial and a brief explanation of how the statute applies to the specific situation under consideration.

The limited record available to this office indicates that neither the chairman of the local planning committee nor any employee or official of the county board of education has submitted a written response to the complaining party concerning the matter set forth in his letter of February 27, 1997, to the chairman of the local planning committee.

This office is not making and cannot make at this time any decision as to whether the committee in question violated the Open Meetings Act relative to the meeting held on January 14, 1997. It is, however, the decision of this office that the committee violated the Open Meetings Act by its failure to respond in writing to the complaining party within three business days after the receipt of the complaint. See 96-OMD-262 and 97-OMD-37, copies of which are enclosed. The local planning committee should immediately respond in writing to Mr. Hunsaker relative to his complaint of February 27, 1997, being certain to consider the issues raised and include in the response the information required by KRS 61.846(1).

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 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:

Greg Hunsaker

8779 Highway 1078 South

Henderson KY 42420

Dennis Moran, Chairman

Local Planning Committee

592 North Barren Church Road

Henderson KY 42420

Henderson County School System

Office of the Superintendent

1805 Second Street

Henderson KY 42420