Jeffco school board gets some open-government training in an open meeting, after all

From the Canyon Courier (Evergreen):  Jeffco’s new school board heard an overview of Colorado’s Open Meetings Law and Open Records Act during a public meeting last Thursday before moving behind closed doors to ask specific questions.

The board — whose five members were elected in November — originally was slated for a two-hour executive session to receive training on “the Colorado Open Meetings Law, the Colorado Open Records Act, conflicts of interest and standards of conduct for local public officials.”

Attorneys associated with the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition told Evergreen Newspapers last week that general advice or teaching would not fall under the Open Meetings Law exemption for executive sessions.

Board President Ron Mitchell said at Thursday’s meeting that the executive session had been placed on the board’s agenda as a “courtesy to our citizens, so they could look at our board agenda and know that it was certainly a very good possibility that we would do that.”

Caplan and Earnest’s Jim Branum, one of the attorneys leading the training, recommended that the session be conducted behind closed doors because of the in-depth nature of the program. He said the training was designed to answer questions and provide advice to board members about certain scenarios that could arise during their time leading the district.

School board member Susan Harmon, herself an attorney, said she supported holding the training in executive session because she’s aware of the general tenets of the sunshine laws, and that the public has access to that same information. She said her questions revolved around specifics.

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