The best way to destroy public confidence is to do things in secret.
The Warren County School Board did just that Monday night when the board closed its goal-setting meeting to the public.
First, we disagree with the board's position that a goal-setting meeting qualifies for any of the very specific exceptions to Pennsylvania's Sunshine Law. We understand that no votes will be taken, but the Sunshine Act specifically DOES NOT exempt meetings to talk over setting goals, a subject which may be interpreted as almost anything the board might do in the future.
The law does exempt conferences, but defines those conferences as "any training program or seminar, or any session arranged by State or Federal agencies for local agencies, organized and conducted for the sole purpose of providing information to agency members on matters directly related to their official responsibilities."
Monday's goal-setting meeting did not qualify under that exemption.
It was not related to pending litigation. It was not related to a specific employee matter or to consider the purchase or lease of real property. It was not held to discuss information that could, if made public, violate attorney-client privilege.
It was a session to set goals for the Warren County School District, something the public has a right to know about.
The assurance that those goals will be made public at a later date doesn't cut the mustard. The public has a right to know not only what the goals are, but how they were deliberated.