Change to Open Meetings Law catches at least two charter boards off guard

Encore Academy has canceled tonight’s board meeting after learning it was in violation of the state’s 24-hour notice requirement for public meetings.

At least one other charter school recently has also made the mistake of announcing a public meeting over a weekend, which no longer counts toward the one-day notice requirement.

A 2014 revision of the state’s Open Meetings Law stipulates Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays do not count toward the 24-hour clock. That law went into effect Aug. 1.

Sunday, Encore Academy sent out a notice announcing a special board meeting scheduled for tonight. But the clock on that notice didn’t officially start until 12:01 a.m. Monday, meaning a 6:30 p.m. meeting would come during hour 18.

The law means Monday meetings generally must be announced by Friday.

In response to an email from The Lens, Encore CEO Terri Smith said the board was not aware of the change in law but “…will of course ensure the ENCORE Learning Board follows the law as dictated in the future.

“Thank you for bringing this to our attention.”

This is especially important for the board’s coming meeting because it was called to address a pending property sale. Any actions taken during a meeting held in violation of the state’s Open Meeting Law can be voided if challenged successfully in court.

The law is designed to give the public ample time to read the board agenda and prepare to attend. All public bodies in the state, including charter school boards, must adhere to the law.

Last week, Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans sent a notice on Sunday, April 5, for a meeting the next day.

Board President Allyson Mills said the school’s email system is automated, and programmed to provide a 24-hour advance notice. However, she said they will change the timing in accordance with current law.

“I can’t confirm but I’m willing to bet that the agenda was otherwise timely posted,” she said via email.

She also said the board will re-vote on action items from April 6 at its next board meeting.

The growing French-curriculum charter school is running out of space at its two leased campuses and the board met April 6 to consider leasing additional space.

Encore has rescheduled its meeting for Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at its temporary campus, Dibert Elementary School at 4217 Orleans Ave.

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About Marta Jewson

Marta Jewson covers education in New Orleans for The Lens. She began her reporting career covering charter schools for The Lens and helped found the hyperlocal news site Mid-City Messenger. Jewson returned to New Orleans in the fall of 2014 after covering education for the St. Cloud Times in Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with majors in journalism and social welfare and a concentration in educational policy studies.

  • nickelndime

    Why not here? A REPOST: Leave the teacher certification process alone, Lottie Beebe. School districts (like St. Bernard and St. Martin) should not be put in charge of certifying its own personnel. This is a B$ move that sets a dangerous precedent and is a foot in the door for the RSD to “certify” its own RSD charter school teachers. Hospitals don’t license physicians; Law firms don’t license attorneys…Now, I am sick of every BESE member because all of them have crossed the line. Yes, some BESE members are worse than others, but all of them need to be sent home with Walter Lee, who got “the chair” in his front room. Guffaw Guffaw 4/14/2015 6:35 PM/10:05 PM

  • NOLA_Darling

    RSD doesn’t need an in house certification program, when they are have such an incestous relationship TFA.

  • nickelndime

    I like what you wrote 2 months ago on Politico, “NOLA_Darling,” about John White. We are rolling on the floor. Incestuous relationships (called “inbreeding” in the academic-legal world) are not confined to the RSD and TFA. Caroline and Chas sitting in a tree… 05/05/2015 5:52 PM USA

  • nickelndime

    What do you get when you cross a John White with a Patrick Dobard? What do you get when you cross a RSD Deputy Superintendent with a Louisiana Senator?…05/05/2015 5:56 PM USA

  • nickelndime

    “Senator Karen Carter Peterson” – that’s what you get when you cross a Louisiana Senator with a RSD Deputy Superintendent Dana Peterson (the “flim-flam” man). It’s called “inbreeding.” The Feds may have silenced former OPSB member, Ira Thomas, but I’ve got to give Thomas his props on getting that off before “they” got him. 05/05/2015 6:57 PM DST USA

  • nickelndime

    Q: What do you get when you cross Senator Karen “Ken” Carter Peterson with New Orleans City Council Member LaToya Cantrell? ANS: The next obnoxious mayor of New Orleans. Guffaw! Guffaw! 05/05/2015 7:02 PM DST USA