Office of the Attorney General finds board in violation of Open Meetings Act

Attorney General Jack Conway found the Murray State Board of Regents to be in violation of two Open Meetings Act laws in an opinion sent to Lexington, Ky., attorney Jim Deckard Wednesday.

Deckard originally filed a complaint against the board for holding a private meeting at Regent Sharon Green’s house the night before the March 15 meeting. At that meeting, the board voted not to renew President Randy Dunn’s contract.

Board Chair Constantine Curris denied Deckard’s complaint, which asked the board to revote on Dunn’s contract. Deckard then filed a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General.

The OAG had 10 days to respond with an opinion, which can be found here: OAG opinion.

The opinion states that the board violated both KRS 61.810(1) and KRS 61.835. The board violated the first act by holding a meeting of quorum at the home of Green on March 14. Also, by failing to record minutes of that meeting, the board violated the second act listed.

The opinion says: “Because the record on appeal supports a finding that quorum of the Board was present during the March 14 meeting and that public business was discussed, this office concludes that the Board violated KRS 62.810 in failing to comply with the requirements codified at KRS 61.823 regardless of whether a vote of any kind was taken or there was any nexus between the improper discussion and the final action taken on March 15.”

The opinion also quotes an interview held by WKMS with Curris, where he said there was discussion of the ad-hoc contract committee report. This report was given to the Regents two days prior to the March 15 meeting and discussed Dunn’s performance at Murray State.

Dunn said he was not surprised by the outcome reached in the opinion.

“Under the Kentucky Open Meetings Act, it’s fairly clear what constitutes as an illegal meeting,” Dunn said. “It did appear that the test was met under Kentucky statutes.”

The document went on to state that the OAG does not have the power to declare any act in the March 15 meeting void. It also quotes a section of the Open Meetings Act, saying “the formation of public police is public business and shall not be conducted in secret.”

“A violation was committed regardless of whether the March 15 motion resulted from any ‘collective decision’ by the Regents present on March 14,” the opinion states.

The Board of Regents may appeal the OAG opinion in the Calloway County Circuit Court.

Story by Lexy Gross, Editor-in-Chief.