Press-Republican

Education

August 31, 2013

City School denies FOIL request

(Continued)

He also thanked the board for taking action on his request in public session.

“Obviously, it’s been discussed before in executive session, which I don’t believe was appropriate for Open Meetings Law,” Chmura said.

Wachtmeister, fellow board member Robert Hall, Board President Leisa Boise and Vice President Tracy Rotz voted to deny the request, while board member Ron Marino voted to grant it.

The motion, however, did not carry because only a quorum was present for the vote, meaning the motion could have passed only with a unanimous decision. Members Amelia Goerlitz, Steve Krieg, Clayton Morris and Dr. David Stone were absent.

The board is expected to vote on the matter again at its next meeting, on Thursday, Sept. 12.

LEGAL TO WITHHOLD

Before the vote was taken at last week’s meeting, however, Marino stated that he felt denying Chmura’s request was wrong.

“I don’t believe that there’s a client/attorney privilege with Mr. Girvin’s letter.

“This board represents the taxpayers, the residents of this school district,” he said. “They are the clients.”

Wachtmeister told him the notion of taxpayers as clients “sounds nice, but it’s ludicrous.”

“It’s the Board of Education that is the client. It’s not individual taxpayers or a group of taxpayers that are hiring an attorney, requesting an opinion.

“It’s a nice thought by those who are trying to get a wedge issue to have the letter made public, but these kinds of letters sometimes contain advice as to how to approach negotiations, and that should not be made public.”

He added that he stood by his previous statement that changes to health insurance have to be negotiated.

“At the very least, the issue would be one in which, if the district were to act unilaterally, the matter would be subject to litigation and all three of the employee bargaining groups would join together and further a lawsuit against the district, which would take some time to resolve (and) would require the expenditure of district funds to defend in the lawsuit,” he said.

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