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Liverpool school board violates Open Meetings Law

The Liverpool Central School District Board of Education violated the state's Open Meetings Law when it held a board development program in executive session last week, according to an authority on open government.

The board met Jan. 15 and went directly into executive session for the purposes of board development. This is not one of the circumstances allowed under the state's Open Meetings Law, though Board President J. Mark Lawson said the board "always goes into executive session" for board development and "did not do anything inappropriate."

Robert Freeman, head of the state's Committee on Open Government, disagrees.

"That is not a subject for executive session," said Freeman, an attorney who has been with the committee since its inception in 1974. "We have these laws for a reason -- they're to protect the public's right to know. A school board should know that."

When a board goes into executive session, it moves into private session; the public is not allowed to participate in or listen to these proceedings.

Boards can enter into executive session under the following circumstances:

matters which will imperil the public safety if disclosed;

any matter which may disclose the identity of a law enforcement agency or informer;

information relating to current or future investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense which would imperil effective law enforcement if disclosed;

discussions regarding proposed, pending or current litigation;

collective negotiations pursuant to Article 14 of the Civil Service Law (the Taylor Law);

the medical, financial, credit or employment history of a particular person or corporation, or matters leading to the appointment, employment, promotion, demotion, discipline, suspension, dismissal or removal of a particular person or corporation;

the preparation, grading or administration of examinations; and

the proposed acquisition, sale or lease of real property or the proposed acquisition of securities, or sale or exchange of securities held by such public body, but only when publicity would substantially affect the value thereof.

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