RI ACLU Sues Board of Education to Open Up a Closed Retreat

Aug 2, 2013

The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit to keep the state’s Board of Education from holding a retreat that’s closed to the public.

The upcoming retreat will feature presentations on high stakes testing. It will be closed to both the media and the public. Rhode Island ACLU chapter executive director Steve Brown said that undermines the state’s open meetings laws.

Board of Education Chairwoman Eva-Marie Mancuso said closed retreats were common on the now defunct higher education board.
Credit file / RIPR

“A major point of the open meetings statute is to ensure that when public bodies are discussing or getting information on basic public issues, people should have an opportunity to hear what they are talking about,” said Brown.

Board Chair Eva-Marie Mancuso said the seven-month-old Board of Education has held similar closed retreats, and information sessions closed to the public were common on the now-defunct Board of Higher Education.

The lawsuit filed in superior court claims the retreated planned for August 24th & 25th is considered a “meeting” under the state’s Open Records Act, and therefore needs to be open to the public. Mancuso said board members will not discuss anything, only listen to presentations from experts. She said any discussion amongst board members will take place in public meetings.

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