ERIC Number: ED314830
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1989
Reference Count: 0
Beyond the Open Door: A Citizen's Guide to Increasing Public Access to Local School Boards.
Berla, Nancy; Hall, Susan Hlesciak
Although parents and citizens in each community should be encouraged to participate in the educational policy-making process, it has been shown that public access to school board meetings is thwarted in many subtle ways. To gain information that would help to balance the interests of privacy and public access in every school district, the State Association of School Boards in each of the 50 states and the board of education in the District of Columbia were asked to reply to a two-page questionnaire about the provisions of their state's open meeting law as it applies to their member organizations--the local boards of education. Each chief state school officer was asked to supply information as to whom citizens should contact for more information or to file a complaint when they believed the law had been violated by their school boards. Findings indicate that four common elements allow the system of open government to break down: (1) vague requirements for compliance; (2) obtuse language; (3) too many exemptions from open meeting requirements; and (4) complex procedures for citizen participation or redress. The elements of open meetings are discussed as well as the fact that school board members may resist open deliberation. Based on the results of the survey, it is concluded that no state has an open meeting law that can be held up as ideal for protecting public access. A glossary is included, and appendixes making up the bulk of the document provide: (1) summaries of state open meeting laws as they apply to local school boards in 50 states and the District of Columbia); (2) two charts showing provisions of state open meeting laws and common topics allowed in executive sessions; (3) a list of resources; and (4) a list of state school board associations. (SI)
Descriptors: Board of Education Policy, Boards of Education, Citizen Participation, Community Cooperation, Community Involvement, Community Role, Educational Legislation, Elementary Secondary Education, Laws, National Surveys, Participative Decision Making
Publication Sales, National Committee for Citizens in Education, 10840 Little Patuxent Parkway, Suite 301, Columbia, MD 21044 ($10.00 plus $2.00 postage and handling).
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive; Guides - Non-Classroom; Legal/Legislative/Regulatory Materials
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: National Committee for Citizens in Education, Columbia, MD.