House Education Committee passes “Mini-Me” of school board executive sessions bill

By Jeffrey A. Roberts
CFOIC Executive Director

A revived school board transparency bill, which barely passed the Colorado Senate last week, cleared the House Education Committee on Monday on a 7-5 party-line vote.

Democratic Rep. Cherylin Peniston of Westminster, the House sponsor of SB 14-182, described the measure as “a Mini-Me” of her unsuccessful attempt earlier this session to require the electronic recording of all portions of school board executive sessions. That bill passed the House but ran into fervent opposition from Republican senators concerned that it would chill privileged attorney-client discussions.

H-Peniston

Rep. Cherylin Peniston, D-Westminster

The new proposal just requires that executive session minutes reflect the amount of time spent discussing each topic, in addition to a broad description of each topic as required under current law.

“As oftentimes true down here, half a loaf is better than no loaf at all,” Peniston said. “… It’s a very small change, but many think a worthwhile change for some transparency with executive sessions of school boards.”

The House Education Committee restored a provision requiring that any electronic recordings of school board executive sessions be kept for at least 24 months, the statute of limitations for civil actions to be filed against public entities in Colorado. The House had reduced the time period to 90 days.

Both school board executive session bills were introduced because of a perception that some boards of education have held secret meetings in violation of Colorado’s Sunshine Law.

Follow the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition on Twitter @CoFOIC. Like CFOIC’s Facebook page. Visit CFOIC’s legislature page to track bills in the General Assembly that could affect the flow or availability of information in Colorado.

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