The Open Meetings Compliance Board also found that the Montgomery County Board of Education was "not correct" in their assertion that the complainant bears the burden of proof and that there is a presumption that no violation has occurred.
In response to the filing of this complaint the Montgomery County Board of Education voluntarily changed its procedure for going into a closed session. Since the filing of this complaint, members of the public can now observe the Board voting to go into closed session prior to the Board room doors being closed. The sign stating "Board members and staff only" that is at the entrance to the conference room used for closed sessions is now to be taken down to permit the public to freely enter and observe the vote of the Board to go into closed session.
The Open Meetings Compliance Board cited the MCPS Board of Education for a violation of $10-508(d)(2)(ii) of the Open Meetings Act. The Open Meetings Board opinion states that in order to close a meeting of the MCPS Board of Education, the Board must,
"not simply cite the statutory authority, but must disclose the topic of discussion in order to allow the public to access compliance by comparing the cited authority and report topic."..."Here the written statement provided the public no information except that the meeting was closed, among other reasons, for the County Board to receive legal advice. Thus, in closing the meeting of September 9, the County Board violated $10-508(d)(2)(ii)."What did the Board of Education fail to disclose on September 9? They failed to disclose that they were going in to a Closed Session to discuss illegal Curricular Fees that are being charged to MCPS families.
Only time will tell if the MCPS Board of Education will comply with this decision. At the time of this violation the Board of Education President was Nancy Navarro. Will the current board, led by President Shirley Brandman comply with the closed meeting disclosure requirements of Maryland law?