|Comptroller sides with Lenoir City BOE
The Tennessee Comptroller for the Treasury’s Office of Open Records Counsel has found no wrongdoing by the Lenoir City Board of Education.
An inquiry to the office made on May 12 was returned last week after News-Herald presstime for the May 17 edition.
According to Lee Pope, deputy open records counsel for the comptroller’s office, a private meeting held by the BOE on May 11 before the start of the regularly scheduled meeting did not violate the Tennessee Open Meetings Act.
Jeanne Barker, Lenoir City Schools superintendent, told Pope that the BOE meeting was only for the purpose of sharing information. There was no further investigation by the comptroller’s office.
The law states that, “All meetings of any governing body are declared to be public meetings open to the public at all times, except as provided by the Constitution of Tennessee,” and that a meeting is the “convening of a governing body of a public body for which a quorum is required in order to make a decision or to deliberate toward a decision on any matter.”
Because Barker informed Pope that the meeting was strictly for the sharing of information, and did not include any sort of deliberation toward a topic that will be acted on, the meeting was declared in legal standing.
The comptroller’s office did not disclose details of the meeting.
Barker declined to provide further comment regarding the meeting, adding only that she was also informed by the comptroller’s office that the meeting was legal.
Loudon City Council dealt with its own questions regarding open meetings last week when Councilman Lynn Millsaps refused to go into an executive session he felt was in violation of the open meetings act.
Millsaps said during the meeting that he felt the city had been breaking the law, a charge that was quickly refuted by Joe Ford, the city’s attorney.
In a follow-up interview Monday, Millsaps stood by his claim.
“I just don’t think they were following the guidelines,” he said. “Our attorney said it’s legal, but I read the law and it pretty clearly says that the city shouldn’t have closed meetings unless it pertains to a potential lawsuit.”
Millsaps has not received clarification from Ford and declined to comment further. He directed further questions to Ford when asked if deliberation toward making a decision had taken place during previous executive sessions.
Ford has not returned a request for comment.