BOE fights opinion seeking vote data
The Board of Education is resisting an opinion that instructs the board to "immediately" disclose how its members voted when James Shon was fired as executive director of the Charter School Administrative Office.
Board Chairman Randall Yee said yesterday that members will meet in executive session Nov. 14 to make a "collective decision" on whether to reveal the information. "From our perspective as a board, we do have the ability to not do it," Yee said, but he stressed that no decision has been made.
In an opinion Monday, the state Office of Information Practices said public records laws require the board to disclose "the motions made and the votes cast by individual members" in its Sept. 7 executive meeting.
The board was originally given until Wednesday to release the documents, but it didn't comply, saying the Attorney General's Office was reviewing the opinion to make sure Shon's privacy would be protected.
The OIP reminded the board once again in a letter Thursday that it "must immediately disclose" the information because of public interest.
Leslie Kondo, OIP's director, said yesterday that the board doesn't need to meet to release the redacted minutes regarding Shon's firing.
"Because it has already been reported that he has been terminated or not renewed, there's no privacy interest," Kondo said. "We wouldn't have put them in a position to violate the Sunshine Law by telling them to disclose the minutes."
Larry Geller, who filed one of at least two public requests for the information on Sept. 14, said he's yet to hear from the board. "Unless something really strange happens, I don't believe they will become law-abiding citizens," he said. "There's nothing I can do."
Right-to-know advocates suspect the board is waiting until after Tuesday's election to act, preventing voters from knowing which members supported or opposed Shon's oversight of the state's 27 charter schools.
The board dismissed Shon in a closed-door session after conducting an annual review of his performance. No official reason has been given for the firing.
The board's Nov. 14 meeting will be closed to the public and media so that members can consult with an attorney. It is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Queen Liliuokalani Building.