One reporter, WISH-TV's Jim Shella, pulled archived video of the last board meeting where one board member queried Ritz about the possibility of engaging the Legislative Services Agency to help verify the accuracy of the grading once it was completed, a move Ritz said she would welcome. Shella conflated that exchange as official action approving the use of LSA to perform the grade calculations as board members would later request of legislative leaders after exchanging e-mails and faxes following the board meeting. There was no formal motion made, discussed or approved by the board. Shella and others have used the video exchange, which was taken completely out of context, to make Ritz look like a fool for contesting the legality of the board members' action following the meeting, which essentially sought to delegate a duty delegated by statute to the Department of Education to the Legislative Services Agency.
Finally, one member of the media finally gets what's really at stake. Lesley Weidenbener has a spot on column in today's Louisville Courier-Journal explaining why the public should be concerned if officials actions of a board can be taken in the manner done so by the state's board of education.
The law is clear about a few things: Official action is a broad term that includes deliberating, making recommendations, establishing policy and making decisions. It’s also clear that government boards — city councils, county commissions, state boards and others — must give the public notice that a meeting will occur and then post an agenda of what’s to be discussed or acted on . . .
[I]f a judge decides what the board did is legal, it could set a dangerous precedent for other public groups and may call for legislators to rethink the Open Door Law . . .
After all, what would stop city council members from simply circulating a letter to approve a contract for snow removal? Or why couldn’t the Indiana Gaming Commission vote to discipline a blackjack dealer who broke the rules by just emailing the proposed punishment around to members?
For that matter, why would a board ever really need to meet again at all if the members could take care of business through email?
Sound extreme? Of course it does. And the action taken by 10 members of the State Board of Education was nothing like approving a contract, spending money or issuing a penalty.
The members requested that the legislative branch get involved in a Department of Education function. They didn’t even have the authority to demand that lawmakers get involved . . .The concerns raised by Weidenbener should come to mind intuitively for any good journalist. Yet like we've seen with recent disclosures of unprecedented surveillance by the NSA and what it means for the loss of privacy, most of the media just greets it with a collective yawn, or even worse, take the side of those who are doing the offending