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Opinion shows SBOE did not violate Open Door Law

The 10 appointed members of the State Board of Education did not violate Indiana’s Open Door Law in signing a letter to legislative leaders last month. That's according to an advisory opinion from the state’s public access counselor released Monday.

At issue was a letter State Board members sent asking state lawmakers to intervene in the calculation of A-F letter grades. State Superintendent Glenda Ritz (D-IN) said their actions constituted a secret meeting and filed suit against the rest of the board. But when a Marion County judge threw out the lawsuit, four private citizens filed a complaint with the state’s public access counselor.

In the advisory opinion issued Monday, Public Access Counselor Luke Britt wrote the State Board members agreed via email to sign a letter their staff prepared and there wasn’t enough evidence to prove a secret meeting took place.

“In this instance, the email exchange could be interpreted as a ratification of a final decision by vote,” Britt writes. “I do not think it rises to that level, but the perception of the public is of significant importance.”

Britt writes all state agencies need to be aware of public access laws because even the appearance of a violation can damage integrity.

Elle Moxley reports for StateImpact Indiana.

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