From the Republican-American today:
full story at http://rep-am.com
FASTER stands for Faculty / Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response, a program that promotes firearms training for school personnel to respond to incidents of school violence.
Tom Hennick, public education officer for the state Freedom of Information Commission, said Monday that the FOI law does not govern who decides what is placed on the meeting agendas of municipal boards and commissions, and the board is under no obligation to reveal what written communications it has received.
Parkin sent the board a packet of information on Feb. 3 and asked to discuss it with the board at the March 3 meeting, although school board Chairman Paul Cortese declined to put it on the agenda. Cortese issued a statement Feb. 5 that the Board of Education did not support the program of allowing guns at Kent Center School. He said that he was speaking as the spokesman for the board.
The board never took a vote on the topic, although several board members apparently did respond to public comments near the end of the Feb. 4 meeting. Cortese said at the March 3 meeting that he understood the views of the board members and this allowed him to give the statement.
“The Kent Center School Board of Education is not in support of bringing firearms into Kent Center School and should we, in the future, wish to consider such a proposal we will approach the issue thoughtfully, fully engaging the public, and being sure to follow both the law and best practices,” he wrote in his statement.
Hennick said that a chairman of a board may draw a consensus from a discussion and that this would probably not be in violation of FOI. Since the board does not claim to have rendered a “decision” the FOI law would not be involved. If the board members have indicated their opinion and given the chairman the ability to relay the group’s opinion without a vote, it is not covered by the FOI law.
Parkin said Monday that it was disheartening that a board would and could refuse to discuss an issue that was presented to the members. He attended the March 3 meeting but Cortese introduced the public comment section asking if “anyone had anything to say about any of the agenda items.” It was not presented as an open public comment time.
“The Board of Ed is also accountable to the public,” Parkin said.