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Arlington School Board accused of violating Open Public Meetings Act

ARLINGTON — New developments have emerged in a lawsuit charging the Arlington School District with violating the state's Open Public Meetings Act.

In the spring of 2008, the Spokane-based non-profit Center For Justice filed a lawsuit against the school district, claiming that the district's board of directors conducted study sessions and executive sessions without giving adequate public notice, and alleging 144 violations of the public meetings act from March of 2006 to May of 2008.

On July 20, the center filed a motion for summary judgment in Snohomish County Superior Court, arguing that the evidence supports their claims about the school board's meetings. The center is asking a judge to find the district guilty of violating the meetings act, since center officials now believe there's enough evidence to support their charge that the matter doesn't need to go to trial. A court hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 19.

The district maintains its denials that the board ever violated the act, while Dave Hokit, the lawyer representing the district in this case, has stated that the district is considering filing a motion for summary judgment against the center. Greg Overstreet, the lawyer representing the center, has expressed the hope that the district's policies will change, fines will be paid and the center will be reimbursed for its attorney fees, as well as for the investigative work involved in identifying the alleged violations of the act. Overstreet further stated that the district "has admitted to many facts" indicating a violation of the act, while Arlington school officials have stated that there's ample proof that the board has not routinely violated the act.

The act is intended to make government meetings and documents open to taxpayer oversight, albeit with limitations regarding personnel matters, pending litigation and matters that would affect real estate prices.

To see the story The Arlington Times published in April of 2008 about this lawsuit, click here

The Arlington Times has interviews scheduled with Hokit and Overstreet, and will update this story as information becomes available

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