Judge rules school board violated meetings act

ARLINGTON — A Snohomish County Superior Court judge ruled on Friday, Oct. 23, that Arlington School Board members did violate the state’s Open Public Meetings Act but did not do so on purpose.

Judge Ellen Fair ruled that the School Board conducted 21 closed-door executive sessions in violation of the act, ruling that the entity did not give proper notice of special Board meetings.

Despite the ruling, Board members will not have to pay fines.

The ruling comes 18 months after a Spokane-based public interest group, the Center for Justice, filed a lawsuit against the district for violating the act.

Attorney Greg Overstreet of Allied Law Group, who represents the center, argued that the School Board repeatedly conducted executive and study sessions between March 2006 and May 2008 without informing the public.

“The district was found guilty of 21 violations, so the Center for Justice obviously prevailed in the case at least in many of the important parts of the case,” Overstreet said.

Curran Law Firm attorney David Hokit, who represents the Arlington School District, said the district has maintained that they did not intentionally violate the act.

The district was informed by the state Auditor’s Office in 2007 that it had violated the Open Public Meetings Act.

Hokit said the Board has changed its practices, which included holding closed-door executive sessions at the beginning of pubic meetings rather than after.

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