A failure to properly notice a Sept. 5, 2017, executive session and then having the meeting without an attorney present has earned the Mingus Union School District a letter of reprimand from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.
“This occurrence has been noted as a violation, and will be considered in determining the appropriate response to any future Open Meeting Law violations by the Board and its current members,” states the Nov. 20 letter to the Mingus Union School Board and its attorney, Susan P. Segal.
The letter from Chief of Government Accountability and Special Litigation Oramel H. Skinner notes that the Mingus Union School Board, “concedes that it failed to provide proper notice of an executive session under the proper legal authority and failed to have an attorney present for the executive session.”
The complaint to the AG’s office, “alleged that the Board convened in an executive session to discuss contract negotiations, but the Board’s legal counsel was not present during the executive session. The complaint further alleged that the agenda for the September 5, 2017, meeting did not include an agenda item for possible action of the Board following the executive session.”
The same complaint also alleged a second violation by the Mingus board, but the AG investigation “was unable to substantiate a violation of the Open Meeting Law in connection with the October 13, 2017 Board Meeting.”
Mingus attorney Susan Segal said that while the Mingus board conceded an Open Meeting Law violation in regard to the Sept. 5, 2017, meeting, “We disagree on the law as it applies to the executive sessions … it is open to interpretation … We conceded that there is a discrepancy in the law.”
As for the board meeting in executive session without an attorney present, Segal said she was not notified of the meeting.
In determining a “remedy” for the September 2017 violation, the letter from the AG’s office states, “We considered the readily available records documenting whether the Board has had any recent open meeting law violations and the fact that the Board’s attorney planned to ‘schedul[e] training with the Board to ensure all members understand their obligations under the Open Meeting Law[.]’
“Having weighed these considerations, the Office requests proof that such training occurred for each Board Member.”
The letter states “any forthcoming determination regarding any other pending complaints will be addressed by Assistant Attorney General Richard Baek.
The letter concludes by stating it “relates solely to the disposition of the aforementioned Open Meeting Law complaint; it is not a formal opinion of the Attorney General’s Office.”
Segal said she has reached agreement with the Attorney General’s Office that Open Meeting Law training is not necessary for outgoing board members, but instead she will conduct the training with the MUHS board when new board members begin their duties in January.