By Brandi Makuski
The Stevens Point School Board met illegally on Tuesday, an oversight due to an improperly-posted agenda, according to Interim Superintendent Lee Bush.
The superintendent screening committee, which includes all nine members of the school board, met in closed session on Tuesday to interview candidates for a full-time superintendent, according to Bush. But following the first interview, two members of the school board pointed out the meeting had not been publicly posted at least 24 hours in advance — a requirement under state law whenever a majority of the school board plans to meet.
At that point, Bush said, he and Board President Meg Erler left the room to contact the district’s legal counsel for direction.
“I then immediately went back to the group and told them that I had inadvertently failed to post the meeting, therefore they were dismissed at once,” Bush said in an email statement. “I apologized and said that we would notify and reschedule the candidates.”
Bush and Erler met with District Attorney Louis Molepske on Wednesday to inform him of the violation. As of Thursday, Molepske said no complaint had been lodged by other board members.
“No one has filed a complaint in my office, but I am aware of [the issue],” Molepske said. “They stopped [the meeting] once they realized they had failed to send notice of the meeting. Per my memo on the previous event, that’s what I suggested be done; if they’d have continued, that’s when you get into trouble.”
The “previous event” Molepske referred to involved an open meeting law violation which occurred last February. In that instance, a school board member filed a complaint with the DA’s office when board business was briefly discussed following adjournment of its Feb. 23, 2015 meeting. Molepske concluded state law had been violated in that instance, but no forfeitures were placed against the board at that time.
Bush said he was solely responsible for the error involving Tuesday’s meeting. He said the committee met for about an hour before the mistake was pointed out.
“I want to stress that no one knowingly attended the meeting in violation of the law, and because no action was taken, there is no committee action to void or to redo,” Bush’s statement read in part. “I take full responsibility for this mistake.”
The committee continued interviews on Wednesday, Bush said, with meeting notices properly posted.
“This error lies solely with me – not the board president nor any members of the board or my executive assistant,” Bush said. “I apologize to the community, and I am embarrassed for the mistake, especially if this causes the district or the board to look bad. That would be an unfortunate, and misplaced, consequence since it was my fault alone.”
Bush is serving a one-year interimship following the resignation of Superintendent Attila Weninger. The school board plans to hire a full-time superintendent prior to the end of the 2015-16 school year.