Officials wrong to bend rules on open meetings

Some government officials seem to think that the less the public knows about what they are doing, the better. That is why open meetings and records laws are a necessity.

Last year, members of the Columbus City Schools Board of Education held seven closed meetings to discuss a scandal about “scrubbing” attendance reports. They had their attorney present and insisted Ohio’s open meetings law did not pertain to them because of an exemption allowing closed meetings to discuss “pending or imminent court action.”

But there was no court action. Board members simply used the ruse because they didn’t want the public to know what they were discussing. Sadly, it is a scheme other public bodies use, on occasion.

But earlier this month, a Franklin County magistrate ruled the closed meetings were illegal. No more can be held under the excuse used by the board, he said.

Good. Members of other government bodies in Ohio need to keep in mind that the public’s right to know cannot be infringed upon merely because officials decide their constituents should be kept in the dark.