The Long Beach Island Consolidated School Board has settled a lawsuit filed against it earlier this year by a government transparency group alleging violations of state disclosure laws. A consent order approved by the Ocean County assignment judge saw the board agree to comply fully with the provisions of the state Open Public Meetings act to rectify transparency issues raised in the initial lawsuit.
The New Jersey Foundation for Open Government, a non-profit organization that promotes government transparency, filed suit against the school board back in March of this year, alleging that the school board failed to keep meeting minutes in violation of the state Open Public Meetings Act. Earlier in November, all but one count of the lawsuit has been resolved thanks to a consent order approved by Ocean County Assignment Judge Marlene Lynch Ford, A.J.S.C.
John Paff Says Outcome of Lawsuit “Good Step Forward For Transparency”
“On November 4, 2016, Ocean County Assignment Judge Marlene Lynch Ford approved a Consent Order that resolved all but one count of NJFOG’s lawsuit against the Long Beach Island Board of Education,” the NJFOG’s John Paff said in an email to Ocean County Politics Tuesday morning.
“Specifically, the Board is now required to a) properly label its minutes to distinguish between public and nonpublic meetings, b) strictly avoid discussing a topic in private unless that topic qualifies under the law for private discussion, c) notify the public of the topics the Board will discuss during closed sessions with “as much detail as possible about each matter being discussed,” d) provide a public comment period at every public meeting, e) give proper public notice of each of its meetings and f) pay NJFOG $3,042.37 for its costs and attorney fees.”
“The only remaining question in this case is whether the Board’s closed meeting minutes contain enough detail to satisfy the Open Public Meetings Act’s “reasonably comprehensible” standard, Paff added.
“We think that this is a good step forward for transparency.”