School Board Breaks Sunshine Law

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The school board, in its own dysfunctional way, is defiantly moving ahead with hiring a new superintendent against the mayor's wishes. And just in case anyone might want to hold board members individually accountable for their choice, they were hoping to cast secret ballots. But Pith in the Wind, your ever-diligent government watchdog, has called the board on it and forced public votes in the future on hiring the superintendent. You can thank us later. Here's what happened: The board interviewed its three finalists ad nauseam over the weekend, then considered how to narrow the field. Believe it or not, board members pretended they were on the Survivor TV show, and each secretly wrote on a little yellow note card the name of who they wanted to "vote off the island" by not inviting back for another interview. Board members were happy to keep their votes secret. One member, the Hermitage insurance salesman Steve Glover, chortled at the thought. "The media will probably dust these for fingerprints," he joked as the note cards were passed to the consultant conducting the superintendent search. This was a blatant violation of the state's Open Meetings Act, which clearly states "no secret votes, or secret ballots, or secret roll calls shall be allowed." Pith pointed this out to a sheepish board chair David Fox, who checked with Metro's law department and phoned back to admit guilt. "Thank you for bringing this to our attention," Fox said. The board will vote again on whether to narrow the field of candidates, this time casting ballots openly in compliance with the law, on Wednesday night, and there will be no more secret votes, Fox promised.

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