School Board Confused about Wake’s Public Information Policy

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Republican School Board member Debra Goldman raised concerns at Tuesday’s school board meeting about the transparency of lengthy threads of email exchanges among board members.

Goldman and fellow-Republican Deborah Prickett specifically requested the discussion on WCPSS public information policy to be added as an action item to the agenda—but no action was taken.

school board work session

Jim Martin and other members of the Wake County School Board discuss the system's public information policy. Photo by Will Huntsberry.

The discussion instead centered around a thread of emails generated by Democratic board member Jim Martin, who was elected in the fall.

In the emails, which were sent out to board members and staff, Martin said he questioned the logic of a recent public records request for all his emails since taking office. He added that he didn’t say he wouldn’t comply.

“My concern with Jim asking questions about if we had to answer this wide net that was cast for the new board members — my concern was that in asking that it could countervene longstanding North Carolina statute,” Goldman said.

The board’s attorney Ann Majestic clarified the issue.

“I appreciate Mrs. Goldman’s point — to a point,” Majestic said. “Show restraint if it’s working towards a decision, a board action item. Having those kinds of discussion would be contrary to the spirit of the [law]. This was more about an information exchange.”

While not the original requester, the Record has asked for the emails in question.

One thought on “School Board Confused about Wake’s Public Information Policy

  1. Discussions of public business via e-mails by a board majority could be viewed as being in violation of the NC Public Meetings Law.

    http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/enactedlegislation/statutes/html/byarticle/chapter_143/article_33c.html

    “Official meeting” means a meeting, assembly, or gathering together at any time or place or the simultaneous communication by conference telephone or other electronic means of a majority of the members of a public body for the purpose of conducting hearings, participating in deliberations, or voting upon or otherwise transacting the public business within the jurisdiction, real or apparent, of the public body.