The Lusher Charter School governing board voted unanimously Saturday morning to meet behind closed doors to discuss the state’s Open Meetings Law.
The Lusher board wanted advice from their lawyer on three topics, according to the agenda for the meeting: the lawsuit over the new Orleans Parish School Board funding formula, the ongoing proceedings over the effort to form a teachers’ union, and “open meetings law.” State law (which can be found at the Louisiana attorney general’s website) allows governing bodies such as the Lusher board to meet confidentially to discuss issues such as employee competence and pending litigation, but the “open meetings law” is not among the stated topics a governing board can discuss in secret.
When asked by a member of the audience why the board would be discussing the open-meetings law in private, CEO Kathy Riedlinger said the school had been the subject of a complaint by The Lens regarding its compliance with the law. She did not offer further details.
After an objection from Uptown Messenger about the use of an executive session for a discussion of open meetings, the board voted unanimously in favor of the private meeting. Board member Rachel Wisdom said she would make available a justification for the action from the board’s attorney afterward.
The board also rejected a request from a parent in the audience to address them on a topic not on the day’s agenda. Wisdom said the board’s rules are only to allow public comment on items being voted upon, but the parent asked for the courtesy of two minutes to address the board with her concern, as many other charter boards allow.
“Can I just have two minutes?” the parent asked.
“It’s really not the proper forum for that, and it’s not going to be entertained,” Wisdom reiterated, offering to give the parent her email address to send her thoughts later.
Another parent in the audience asked how the public could place topics for discussion on the agenda, and Wisdom said, “You can’t.”
The relatively brief public portion of Lusher’s board meeting included a vote to add three new members to the board — Gary Solomon of Crescent Bank, George Wilson of Barrier Construction, and Quentin Messer of the New Orleans Business Alliance — as well as a report by Riedlinger on a visit this week by Orleans Parish School Board officials to review the school’s special-education services.
The executive session is still continuing. To read our live coverage of the meeting, see below.