Madison Schools Skirt Around Open Meetings Law

Tricky, tricky

Individually or in pairs, Madison School Board members spend hours each year in private “board briefings” with Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, discussing matters soon to come before the full board for votes that must be held in public.

Cheatham instituted the briefings after she was hired in 2013, and district administrators and some board members defend the practice.

But recent guidance from the state attorney general’s office cautions that such small, private gatherings of public officials risk running afoul of the state open meetings law, a current board member and attorney called them “on the line” legally, and a former board member stopped participating in them because he believes the public and board members should be able to hear policy discussions involving members and administrators.