It was clear Tuesday that the new Wake County school board majority had come to the meeting with a definite plan of action in the form of seven resolutions and a policy they added on the spot.
As noted in today's article, members of the new majority acknowledged that they held private meetings ahead of time in order to make a big splash at their first meeting. It looks like their actions complied with the letter but not the spirit of the state Open Public Meetings Law.
"It's a clear violation of the spirit of the law," said Cathy Packer, a media law professor at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Packer said the fact that they weren't officially on the board yet is why it was likely legal for them to meet privately. But she said they could have notified the public that they were meeting so they could atted.
Scott Warren, attorney for the board of commissioners, said he wouldn't have advised new members to meet as a majority before they were sworn in.
The new majority stands behind the legality of its actions because the new members weren't in office at the time they met with new board chairman Ron Margiotta and members of the public. Margiotta declined to say which members of the public met with them to have input in the items that were presented Tuesday.
New board member Chris Malone said they had met ahead of time in order to make sure they were prepared for Tuesday.
"What a terrible message that would send if we were not prepared," Malone said.
Margiotta said it wasn't possible to get the resolutions and policies to other members ahead of time. He said even he didn't have copies of all the agenda items before they were discussed as individual new members handled different ones.
Margiotta said the new majority didn't want to wait to handle the eight items because there's a lot of other stuff they want to get to at the next meeting, now scheduled for Dec. 15.
Margiotta said they may revote Dec. 15 on some of the resolutions that were brought up Tuesday. Several of the items were approved with changes suggested by the board minority.
Malone said they wanted to move so aggressively on Tuesday to show the public they're serious about their campaign promises. He noted how some past new board members hadn't followed up on their campaign promises.
In the future though, Margiotta said they'll have the items on the agenda ahead of time.