The More You Know: Board Action, Contracts & FOIA
September 13, 2022
The Cabot School District has been made aware that a Faulkner County resident is seeking to file a report with the Cabot Police Department. Further, the complainant intends to “seek prosecution of each Board Member” for what he considers to be violations of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. While any person can request a report from a law enforcement agency for any reason and anyone can request criminal charges, the District wants to share the following facts as background information for our stakeholders.
The most recent allegations focus on Dr. Thurman’s contract for 2022-2023 and how Arkansas Code Annotated §§ 25-19-106 and 6-13-620 apply. Each spring, the school board discusses and considers the superintendent’s contract for the following school year as part of the evaluation process. The contract specifically includes a resolution listing additional terms and compensation, which is allowable under Policy 2.2. This discussion occurs during executive session, which is permitted under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. The first statute listed above is a provision of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act and states that any resolution considered or arrived at in executive session during a school board meeting must be voted on in public session.
The complainant alleges that the contract was illegally approved because neither the minutes nor the agenda from the February 15, 2022 board meeting lists a separate vote on the resolution, which is specifically noted on the face of the contract. The fact is the school board does reconvene in public session to vote on all matters considered during executive session at every school board meeting. The board meeting on February 15, 2022, was no exception. Statute does not require that the resolution be listed on an agenda. It merely states that the Board must reconvene in public session to vote. The Board complied with that requirement.
On March 15, 2022, the Board discussed and considered the employment of personnel and the contract of the superintendent, which includes the resolution. As required, the Board reconvened in public session for the vote. The approval of the final superintendent’s contract, in its entirety, is reflected on the March 15, 2022 minutes. The personnel action is distributed to staff and posted on the District’s website.
The second statute describes what must be contained in the contract of a school superintendent. The superintendent’s contract meets all requirements of this statute. This is confirmed each year during our annual legislative audit.
Though the complainant is specifically focusing on Dr. Thurman’s contract for the 2022-2023 school year, the District has been and will continue to be in compliance with all laws.