AG Says Springfield School Board Violated Open Meetings Act

May 22, 2013

 Former superintendent Walter Milton’s separation agreement with District 186 violated open meeting laws, according to an opinion by the state’s Attorney General. The previous school board decided to part ways with Milton during the winter before his contract was up. So, the members approved a severance plan worth over $175,000 and agreed to pay health and dental insurance.

That left many residents upset, according to Mike Zimmers who was elected to the school board in April. “That’s the thing I heard the most when I was out campaigning, was (questioning) the amount of money given in the agreement and why. So I guess that would be the thing I would question because my constituents want to know the answer to that, which I can’t give them because I wasn’t a part of it,” said Zimmers.

According to the Attorney General’s office, the school board violated the law by signing the agreement with Milton behind closed doors. “Before you can take a final action, that has to be done in an open session. So the violation here in question is the signature of the document in the closed session,” said Natalie Bauer with the Attorney General’s office.

The board went on to further violate the Open Meetings Act by voting on the agreement at a public meeting without providing details, like how much it was for. The District 186 board is being directed to put together a summary of what took place behind closed doors at a February meeting where the agreement was signed. The board failed to adequately record that meeting. The Attorney General also advised the board to follow the Open Meetings Act in the future. No other penalties were handed down.

–Rachel Otwell