Saturday, February 8, 2014

New OPRA lawsuit: Paff v. Clifton Board of Education

I have filed a new Open Public Records Act (OPRA) case.  The case is Paff v. Clifton Board of Education, Docket No. PAS-L-349-14 and Walter M. Luers of Clinton is my attorney.  The lawsuit and related documents are on-line here.

On November 18, 2013, I requested a copy of the minutes from the school board's June 19, 2013 executive session.  In her December 12, 2013 response, Business Administrator Karen L. Perkins denied my request, stating that the minutes were "advisory, consultative or deliberative materials [because they] have not been approved by the Clifton Board of Education as of the date of your request."  Perkins letter referenced the Government Records Council's 2006 decision in Parave-Fogg v. Lower Alloways Creek Township, GRC Complaint No. 2006-51, which, incorrectly in my view, supports Perkins' decision. 

We argue that under OPRA, the Council's decision in Parave-Fogg case has no value as a precedent and that the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA), which is not enforced by the Government Records Council, mandates that all meeting minutes, open and closed, be made promptly available to the public, even though redaction of closed meeting minutes may be necessary.  In sum, we argue that the Board "should not be permitted to bar access to executive session meeting minutes under OPRA when they have failed to comply with their duty under OPMA to make those minutes available to the public 'promptly.'"

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