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Private vs. public

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By Kathy Lynch

Now that Spencer County Board member Sandy Clevenger  has retained a Louisville attorney to represent her in the suit recently filed by the Spencer County Board of Education, the other side of the story can now start to be unveiled.

Clevenger’s attorney, Valerie L. Shannon, of the law firm Borowitz & Goldsmith, will be responding to the appeal on behalf of her client. 

“When I ran for the board, I stated that I would try to make the district’s business more transparent and I’d work to see that the district follows the law and board policy.  In this case, I acted as an individual citizen because I believe the board is in error on this open meeting issue.”

 As word of the situation moves across the state, opinions from both sides are emerging.

“I’d like to see everything open,” said David Thompson, executive director of the Kentucky Press Association.  “We understand certain things will not be and there is a list of exceptions in the open meeting law.”  Reiterating the point that a superintendent’s evaluation is not one of the exceptions.

In an earlier article concerning the Attorney General’s decision, Attorney Wayne Young of the Kentucky Association of School Administrators said “Legislative intent strongly disagrees that personnel evaluations be done in public.”

Adding, this decision could ultimately be used across the board, not just school superintendents, but also a city manager, a university president or even the commissioner of education, who actually had his evaluation done on the day the Attorney General handed down this decision, and the evaluation was conducted in closed session. 

It should be also noted that according to the office of the president of University of Kentucky, President Lee Todd also received his annual evaluation about the same time, but it was done in an open meeting.

The ultimate question may be, should a person who has been elected or placed in an office, in this case, a school superintendent, expect the privacy of a closed meeting?

It has been said by many including Young that this decision could open up the chance for lawsuits from the individual having the evaluation done, with such results as defamation of character or even slander being brought against the evaluating boards or members of public.

“So what if something comes out of it,” said Thompson.  “Isn’t it the public’s right to know their money which has been spent on this individual, has been spent for the betterment of the school system, to know if the superintendent is doing his/her job professionally and is doing their best for the students.”

“Yes, I think it should be open,” said Thompson.