Deciding behind closed doors

The Wood County Board of Education again has decided to go its own way in an apparent direct violation of state Open Meeting law.

Once again the board took action in secret and then had the gall to read a prepared statement about its secret action taken behind closed doors on an item that was not even on the board’s agenda.

How many violations of state law is that? Taking action on an item not on the agenda! Taking action in a closed door meeting and apparently doing so willfully by having a prepared statement concerning its apparent illegal action!

When will the board learn it is doing little more than slapping the public in the face when it acts in such total disregard for the law and in such blatant disregard for the public’s right to know what the board is doing in the public’s name?

Judging from comments made to the lone attendee at the board meeting – a News and Sentinel reporter – at least one board member knew the board was acting incorrectly … and apparently didn’t care.

Whether the board believes the public has a right to know about its evaluation of Superintendet Pat Law or not is immaterial. The board is required to take all votes in public session, which in the case of Law’s evaluation it chose to ignore such legal requirement.

Maybe the public might have had pertinent information to share with the board pertaining to Law. Maybe the board had pertinent information the public needed to know about its evaluation of Law. Maybe the school administration and staff needed to know what was the deciding factors in Law’s evaluation.

But all that was swept by the wayside by a board that decided to go its own way and take action behind closed doors in direct violation of the Open Meeting law.

Will the board continue its apparent illegal practice when it comes to providing additional money for Stadium Field’s renovation or has it already made its decision in secret?

Will the board take similar action when it comes to placing a levy on the ballot, which it supposedly is working to do as soon as this fall?

It certainly makes one wonder what else has been discussed and decided behind closed doors by the Wood County Board of Education. It makes one wonder if the board members illegally get together in private or via telephone to discuss public business and decide public issues.

Trust is a huge factor when it comes to elected officials. One way for officials to build trust is to conduct business in the light of day. A quick way to lose trust is to conduct business in secret, behind closed doors, such as the Wood County Board of Education did.

If the public does not trust the board, why would it vote on a school levy proposed by the board, giving the board money the public would have to trust the board to spend as it pledged? The board needs to realize its actions could directly affect people’s vote, not only for their re-election but for school levies and bond issues.

Contact Jim Smith at