« Ind. Gov't. - "Tony Bennett hires 2 top defense attorneys in ethics case" [Updated] | Main | Ind. Decisions - Judge Brown suspended with pay, pending final disposition of disciplinary case »

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Ind. gov't. - "PAC: Ivy Tech wording for executive sessions 'poor practice'"

Margaret Fosmoe reported Jan. 4th in the South Bend Tribune:

Counselor Luke Britt says Ivy Tech Community College uses “poor practice” in its notices of state board of trustees’ executive sessions.

Britt was critical of the trustees’ practice of indicating they may discuss a long list of topics during executive sessions without stating which specific topics will be discussed.

Britt issued the informal opinion in response to a request filed by the South Bend Tribune.

Ivy Tech’s state board has made a regular practice of issuing notices of executive sessions stating trustees will discuss “some of or all” of many subjects listed in the notice.

The notices generally list the same nine topics: litigation, security systems, purchase of property, safety measures, prospective employees, alleged misconduct, classified records, job performances and board training. The “some or all” wording in executive session notices has been used regularly since at least early 2012.

“The troubling aspect of the notice is the inclusion of the language ‘some or all’. This indicates the College is posting notice which would capture any discussion that may come up during the meeting as long as it is under the enumerated posting. I do not believe this complies with the purpose of the executive session notice requirement,” Britt wrote, although he noted the law doesn’t specifically prohibit the practice. * * *

Britt’s opinion includes a warning to public bodies: “I would strongly caution all public agencies from using a boilerplate, generic notice for their executive sessions.” * * *

[However] It is unclear whether the Ivy Tech board will change its practice or the wording on executive session notices.

Efforts by The Tribune to reach Ivy Tech President Thomas J. Snyder for an interview on the matter were unsuccessful. The Tribune also could not reach Ivy Tech state board chair Steve Schreckengast, of Lafayette, Ind.

Ivy Tech spokesman Jeff Fanter said neither man was available for an interview, but said he was able to obtain a written statement from Schreckengast saying: “In reviewing the situation it is clear that no open door policy law has been violated with the posting and I am confident that the Board will continue to follow standardized legal posting as per state (statute). We will continue to consider the various items we include on future executive committee agendas.”

Fanter also e-mailed The Tribune a statement saying: “The College and State of Trustees has and will continue to adhere to the Open Door Law. As the Public Access Counselor stated there is no formal format under Indiana (statute) that specifies how a public notice of an executive session should look.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 9, 2014 01:52 PM
Posted to Indiana Government