Thursday, May 3, 2012

RRISD Stonewalls, Possibly Violates Open Meetings Act?

Unsurprisingly, the Round Rock School Board has refused to comply with Trustee Romere's request for public records.  Of course these documents are subject to open records and any citizen can request them, but the district makes sure it is very costly to do so. 

One of the reasons they claim they will not comply is due to the time frame for which Romere wants to view RRISD Board communications:  April 1-26.  But this time frame in and of itself is very interesting since it includes not only the communications prior to the Board's decision to censure Romere (April 24) but also all communications prior to the decision to extend the Superintendent's contract and raise his salary to $260,000 (April 19). 

This begs two questions:  What does Trustee Romere know/suspect, and what could the RRISD Board possibly fear becoming known to the public?

Even more serious, however, is the appearance that the RRISD Board may have violated the Texas Public Meetings Act.  Romere's attorney Ross Fischer has released text messages that Romere received from RRISD Board President Chad Chadwell.  Chadwell indicates that four board members requested the censure, and two others were "interested" after "we discussed the procedure with Bill."  Presumably 'Bill' refers to the RRISD attorney Bill Bingham. 

It appears that the Board discussed this matter without notifying Trustee Romere or the public as required by law. 

When questioned about his text message by the Community Impact Newspaper, Chadwell replied,
“We had actually added a discussion of her censure to the next agenda at a closed session meeting on April 19—she was not in that closed session, she had left,” Chadwell said. “So it was not discussed outside of a meeting.”
Is Chadwell admitting the Board added discussion of a possible censure to the April 19 meeting during the closed session?  If so, he should check the wording of the Texas Public Meetings Act, which requires that agenda items be posted prior to a Closed Meeting and that the accused must have the opportunity to request an Open Meeting.  Since it appears that President Chadwell allowed the matter to be discussed without 1) posting the agenda item, and 2) without notifying Trustee Romere, he may have violated the law. 

The law states:
And, Section 551.041:
As for Romere leaving the meeting, we presume she did so after all of the posted agenda items had been discussed.  Had she known there was another agenda item, would she have left?

One must wonder what else board members have discussed outside of the rules of the Open Meetings Act.  Is that why Romere has requested communications for the month of April? 

In their public comments regarding their rejection of Romere's public records requests, RRISD Board members claim they need to know why and what exactly Romere is looking for before they can comply.   My guess is that both Romere and the Board know very well what she is looking for, but no-one is talking, yet.

A governmental body shall give written notice of the date, hour, place, and subject of
each meeting held by the governmental body.

The notice of a meeting of a governmental body must be posted in a place readily
accessible to the general public at all times for at least 72 hours before the scheduled
time of the meeting, except as provided by Sections 551.044–551.046.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like the RRISD is attempting some 'Austin Weird' here?

Thanks very much for continuing to keep us updated on this issue.

Bryan Kuykendall said...

Just as an FYI it is against the law for them to ask why you want an open record request. That is stated on the Secretary of States website.