The Iowa Public Information Board
COMES NOW, Margaret E. Johnson, Executive Director for the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB), and enters this Dismissal Order.
On May 26, 2020, Eric Henely filed formal complaint 20FC:0053, alleging that the Gilbert Community School District (District) violated Iowa Code chapter 21.
The District used a YouTube live stream system to broadcast the May 6, 2020, school board meeting. During the meeting, the school board motioned to go into closed session. Prior to the vote, the YouTube access was disabled. The actual votes were not taken and recorded in open session.
Mr. Henely also challenged the closed session as he believes that other topics were discussed. He did not provide any information as to why he believes this. He asked for a review of the closed session recording and a release of the recording if other topics were discussed.
The District responded to the complaint and stated that the YouTube access was disabled earlier than intended. A copy of the minutes shows that a roll call vote was held and the motion was unanimously approved. According to the agenda, the purpose of the closed session was to evaluate the District superintendent.
IPIB staff watched the YouTube video of the meeting. After the motion was made, a discussion of the District’s response to the pandemic occurred. As people left the room, the District secretary stated the meeting was concluded, and the recording ended. The vote was not captured on the recording.
From a review of the recorded portion of the meeting, as well as the minutes of the meeting, it appears that the ending of the recording was inadvertent and that the steps to go into a closed session were properly taken. Therefore, the action of the District should be considered harmless error.
There is nothing to substantiate the allegation that the closed session was for any purpose other than the annual review of the superintendent.
Iowa Code section 23.8 requires that a complaint be within the IPIB’s jurisdiction, appear legally sufficient, and could have merit before the IPIB accepts a complaint. The allegations do not provide a sufficient basis to find that the District violated Iowa Code chapter 21.
IT IS SO ORDERED: Formal complaint 20FC:053 is dismissed as legally insufficient or harmless error pursuant to Iowa Code section 23.8(2) and Iowa Administrative Rule 497-2.1(2)(b).
Pursuant to Iowa Administrative Rule 497-2.1(3), the IPIB may “delegate acceptance or dismissal of a complaint to the executive director, subject to review by the board.” The IPIB will review this Order on June 18, 2020. Pursuant to IPIB rule 497-2.1(4), the parties will be notified in writing of its decision.
By the IPIB Executive Director
Margaret E. Johnson, J.D,
1. Iowa Code sections 279.20 through 279.25 outline the procedures for hiring, evaluating, and removing school administrators. Section 279.23A requires annual evaluations.
CERTIFICATE OF MAILING
This document was sent by electronic mail on the ___ day of June, 2020, to:
Gilbert Community School District