On August 20, 2019 Leon County Schools provided the minutes of three meetings requested last week by Tallahassee Reports. The response, fulfilled by LCS Assistant Superintendent Michele Gale, amounted to two paragraphs for each meeting which lasted up to three-hours.
The minutes provided by LCS contained only time, location and a list of attendees. The lack of detail in response to TR’s request may be a criminal violation of the Sunshine Law.
Listed below is a screen shot of the May 21st meeting minutes.
TR also compared various meeting characteristics between the Agenda Review and the regular school board meetings.
Listed below is the date of each meeting, the length of the meeting, and the length of the minutes for the Agenda Review and the following regular Tuesday School Board meeting.
Date: May 21, 2018 Length: 2 hrs. Minutes Length: 2 paragraphs.
Date: May 22, 2018 Length: 2 hrs. Minutes Length: 19 pages.
Date: Oct 22, 2018 Length: 2 hrs, 45 Min. Minutes Length: 2 paragraphs.
Date: Oct 23, 2018 Length: 1 hrs, 58 Min. Minutes Length: 30 pages.
Date: May 13, 2019 Length: 3 hrs, 5 Min. Minutes Length: 2 paragraphs.
Date: May 14, 2019 Length: 1 hrs, 46 Min. Minutes Length: 29 pages.
It is clear that the minutes for the regular meetings were more detailed than the minutes for the Agenda Review meeting.
Also, it is important to note that Agenda Review meetings 2 & 3 lasted longer than the actual school board meetings, which are held on Tuesdays in a more public setting.
What was covered in the Agenda Review and not covered in the regular meetings?
TR determined that the EDULOG presentation was given during the Agenda Review on May 13th, but not covered in the regular meeting on May 14th.
TR has previously written that LCS did not properly record minutes for the “Agenda Review” meetings held the Monday before the the regular Tuesday School Board meeting. The minutes indicate that LCS – in violation of government in the sunshine laws – did not promptly record the minutes of the meetings.
In addition, the information provided by Dr. Gale also appears to be in violation of the government in sunshine laws.
The Government-In-Sunshine-Manual states the term minutes in the Florida statutes, section 286.01, “contemplates a brief summary or series of brief notes or memoranda reflecting the events of the meeting..”
Clearly, the Agenda Review minutes provided to TR were not “reflecting the events of the meeting.”
In fact, the actions by LCS in fulfilling TR’s data request could be criminal. Florida Statutes, section 286.011(3)(b) indicate that a knowing violation of the Sunshine Law is a misdemeanor of the second degree.
Also, the 1st District Court of Appeal has declared that the Sunshine Law is “serious business,” because “there is criminal liability for officials who knowingly disregard it.”
TR will continue to investigate.