Emails About School Closure Not ‘Meeting’

     (CN) – An email exchange between school board members about the closing of an elementary school did not constitute a “meeting” and is not required to be made public, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled.



     The Fairfax County School Board voted in July 2010 to close Clifton Elementary School. However, Jill DeMello Hill alleged that an email exchange among board members constituted a meeting.
     She asked the Fairfax County Circuit Court for a writ of mandamus to force the school board to disclose documents relating to the school closing. She also asked for a public meeting to revisit the issue of the school closing.
     The circuit court found that Hill was not entitled to the documents, and the Virginia Supreme Court agreed in an opinion written by Senior Justice Koontz Jr.
     “The circuit court’s factual findings are a reasonable interpretation of the evidence regarding how the e-mails were used. Accordingly, we cannot say that the court’s judgment that there had been no violation of (state law) was plainly wrong or without support in the evidence,” he wrote.
     “We therefore hold that the court did not err in determining that the Board had not conducted an improper closed meeting in violation of the notice and open meeting requirements of the Freedom of Information Act,” Koontz added.

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