Traverse City Record-Eagle

Region

April 20, 2014

Local officials: Email no way to conduct public business

(Continued)

“That’s not what happens at TCAPS,” Puckett said. “I feel like most of our discussion happens in our committee meetings and in the board room.”

Puckett said she received a handbook about open meetings laws and attended a training session when she joined the school board. She also said TCAPS Superintendent Stephen Cousins keeps board members well-informed about what they can and cannot do outside public meetings.

TCAPS board member Gary Appel said conducting business in public meetings can be awkward — like when TCAPS board members interviewed candidates this year for an open board seat and discussed their weaknesses and strengths in front of a television audience — but it’s the right thing to do.

“We are stewards of the public interest and the public’s dollars and that makes it all the more important that we create every opportunity for anyone in the public, no matter how small the group might be, to understand and be privy to what we do and how we do it,” Appel said.

Appel added in many instances he’d like to deliberate with other board members outside public meetings — including the committee of three board members tasked with searching for a new superintendent ahead of Cousins’ retirement this summer.

“I would love to be able to send my thoughts in an email to all board members and hear their thoughts, but I can’t do it and I think that’s completely fair,” he said. “It’s the business of the board to be very visible and very public.”

 

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