Monday, August 10, 2015

Auditors: R-8 School District now in compliance on closed meetings

A follow-up report issued today by the Missouri State Auditor's office says that the Joplin R-8 School District has taken actions that have corrected the problems with actions being taken in closed session being kept from the public.

When the original audit was released in March, Superintendent C. J. Huff indicated he would form a committee including members of the public to determine if the district would comply with the law. At that time, information on actions taken in closed session was available to the public, but only if the public knew that such an action had been taken.

The auditors said that was not enough. The update is printed below:

The Board of Education (Board) did not make public the results of some votes taken and the final disposition of matters discussed in closed meetings, when required.

 • On January 12, 2012, the Board voted to begin negotiation for a land purchase. The final contract purchasing the land was not approved by the Board or disclosed in the open minutes. 

• On March 27, 2012, the Board voted and approved to sell a Franklin Technical Center built house. The district did not disclose the approval of this real estate sale in open minutes. 

• On April 21, 2014, the Board voted and approved a settlement agreement with a vendor. The district did not make public the approval of the settlement agreement. 

• The Board did not provide final approval in open session to some contracts approved in closed session. These contracts included the Superintendent's contract and various construction contracts entered into after the May 22, 2011, tornado. 

Recommendation- The Board of Education ensure votes taken and decisions made in closed meetings are properly made public when required

Implemented The Board implemented new procedures for handling closed meeting minutes and public disclosures in March 2015. A Board member takes meeting minutes during closed session utilizing a template that requires notation of whether the vote should be made public and the required time frame for such disclosure. District officials indicated if there is a question about whether a vote should be made public it is discussed during the closed session with the Board attorney. The Board Secretary indicated if the minutes indicate a vote requires public disclosure, she posts the typed closed minutes with the required public information on the district website with other Board meeting minutes. We reviewed the meeting minutes available online and observed required information from closed meetings is now available.

The handling of closed session actions was the only item addressed in this update.

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