The Turtle Lake-Mercer school board violated the open meetings law last September, according to a ruling issued Wednesday by State Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.
Stenehjem wrote that the board failed to include a planned executive session on the agenda for the meeting, as is required by law. Once the Turtle Lake-Mercer school board had gone into executive session to discuss the results of a criminal history background check of a prospective employee, the board also discussed several general personnel issues that should not have been discussed in executive session. Specifically, the board discussed how it planned to evaluate candidates, its zero tolerance policy and on what basis board members would feel comfortable hiring a candidate. Stenehjem wrote that personnel matters are not generally confidential and should not have been discussed in executive session.
Under state law, boards may hold executive sessions to discuss closed or confidential records. The planned executive session must be listed in the meeting agenda. The board must record or videotape the executive session. Prior to going into executive session, the board must first announce the general topics that are to be discussed, give the legal authority for going into executive session and topics discussed during the executive session need to be limited to what was previously announced.
Stenehjem is requiring the board to make available the discussion during the executive session minutes that should not have been confidential. He also ordered that any future executive session of the board must be recorded electronically in such a way that it would permit review.
School board election results
- LIGNITE Traci Bakken won election to the Burke Central School Board Tuesday with 54 votes, defeating Justin Blom, who had 12 votes. Voters also approved publishing school board meeting minutes in the county newspaper of record by a vote of 66 in favor to 0 against.
- SURREY Tim Magnuson and Jason Feller won election to three-year terms on the Surrey school board Tuesday. Both Magnuson and Feller had 21 votes. Voters also approved publication of school board meeting minutes in the county newspaper of record by a vote of 23 to 1.
- NEWBURG Scott Hunskor and Karlene Wyman were elected to three-year terms on the Newburg United school board on Tuesday and Nathan Lamoureux was elected to a two-year term on the board. All three had 16 votes. Voters voted against publishing minutes in the county newspaper of record by a vote of 12 against and 5 in favor.
- BOWBELLS J.R. Aufforth was elected to the at-large seat on the Bowbells School Board and Lynette Nelson was elected to the rural seat. Both had 20 votes. Voters voted in favor of publishing school board meeting minutes in the paper of record by a vote of 20 in favor and 0 against.
- SAWYER Oliver Tafelmeyer and Sherri Peterson were elected to the Saywer school board on Tuesday. Voters were in favor of publishing school board meeting minutes in the county newspaper of record.
- VELVA Karl Keller and Jill Lohnes were elected to the Velva school board Tuesday. Keller had 75 votes and Lohnes had 55 votes. In third place was Alan Effertz, with 33 votes. Voters also approved publishing school board meeting minutes in the county newspaper of record by a vote of 80 in favor to 4 against.
- GRENORA Rick Foss, Robert Field and Brent Peterson were elected to the Grenora school board Tuesday. Foss received 35 votes and will represent the Divide County area of the school district. He defeated Loren Sorenson, who received 17 votes.
Field received 41 votes and Peterson received 47 votes. They will represent the Williams County area of the school district.
Voters also approved publication of school board meeting minutes in the county newspaper of record by a vote of 48 in favor to three against.
- MAX Darren Hauf was elected to a three year term Tuesday on the Max school board, representing the rural area. Hauf received 22 votes.
- LEEDS Randy Gunderson and Charlie Bisbee were elected to three year terms on the Leeds school board on Tuesday. Gunderson received 44 votes and will represent Region 4. Bisbee received 42 votes and will represent Region 5.
Voters approved publication of school board meeting minutes in the county newspaper of record by a vote of 36 in favor and 8 against. Voters also approved a measure changing the geographic areas of residence from which the votes at large elect its five school board members. The vote was 37 in favor and 7 against.
- DES LACS-BURLINGTON Brett Casavant and Joshua Sundsbak were elected to three year terms Tuesday on the Des Lacs -Burlington school board. Casavant will represent the City of Burlington. He defeated Scot Redding, who received 92 votes. Sundsbak will hold the rural at-large seat. He defeated Pamela Schestler, who received 96 votes.
Voters also approved publication of school board meeting minutes in the county newspaper of record by a vote of 169 to 52.