Middleton plans to correct open-meetings error

A local teachers’ union says the Middleton School Board violated open meetings law with a closed-door discussion of labor negotiations.

Trustees plan to correct the error next week, Middleton district spokeswoman Vickie Holbrook said Friday.

The issue came to light Wednesday, when Middleton Education Association leaders filed a grievance with the board and district officials. “The Middleton School Board and Chairman Kirk Adams engaged in bad-faith practices by attempting to make unilateral decisions in a closed forum,” local union President Stephanie Boling and Vice President Dave Stacy said in their three-page complaint.

The grievance raises several concerns about a May 11 board meeting, and the trustees’ decision to discuss teacher contract renewals in a closed-door executive session.

  • Union leaders accuse trustees of “voting on unknown discussions” in their closed meeting.
  • Union leaders also say the May 11 meeting agenda made no reference of a closed-door discussion of teacher contracts.

Under state law, contract negotiations must take place in an open meeting, although public agencies can discuss contract offers in a closed meeting. But the state law forbids agencies from “taking any final action or making any final decision” in an executive session, and agencies must make a good-faith effort to list executive sessions on their meeting agenda.

Adams “was aware of the procedural error before the grievance was filed,” Holbrook said in an email Friday morning. She said the board will hold a special meeting early next week to address the error.

Districts across the state are beginning 2020-21 contract negotiations, facing a nonbinding July 1 deadline. Negotiations in Middleton are on hold, Holbrook said, as district officials determine how state budget cuts could affect the district.

More readingAcross the state, a tight and uncertain negotiations season begins.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

Get EdNews in your inbox

Weekly round up every Friday