A big thank you to Kansas attorney general Derek Schmidt for clearing up an open-meetings law that let the Wichita school board think it could recess for more than a week in executive session last February to interview superintendent candidates.
It was a stretch to think Kansas law would allow the board to go into executive session without closing a meeting, keep the meeting officially going for eight days, and privately move it to a law office to interview candidates. But that’s what the board did on advice of its lawyers, and the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s office later said it was OK after The Eagle filed a complaint.
But Schmidt used common sense to clarify a 1996 opinion of the Kansas Open Meetings Act. If a governmental body goes into executive session, it must happen contemporaneously with the open meeting. It can’t go for days on end and must be adjourned.
Transparency has been a common criticism with the school board in recent years, and the eight-day executive session was an example of how it’s comfortable keeping matters so secret that it didn’t want to inform the public of when it was secretly conducting job interviews.