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Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff on Friday said his office will sue the state's largest school district for an alleged violation of Utah's open meetings law.
The alleged violation occurred in October when the Jordan Board of Education closed a meeting to discuss funding for school security officers, according to a Deseret Morning News reporter, who requested Shurtleff's involvement. The board had discussed the matter twice before in meetings open to the public.
"The people have a right to have their business conducted in the open," Shurtleff said in a statement. "Our job is to enforce the Open Meetings Act and all we require is a little cooperation from public bodies to accomplish this. Unfortunately, Jordan [School] District and the state will now expend precious resources going to court when those resources could be spent on educating and protecting our children."
Shurtleff's office has tried to review the recordings and minutes of the closed meetings to determine whether the meetings violated the act, but the district has repeatedly refused to provide them, according to the A.G.'s office.
The records in question belong to the state, and the Government Records and Archives Act allows Jordan to provide the records to the A.G.'s office, Shurtleff said. Formal requests from the office to the district have been rebuffed.
The district on Friday released a statement saying its officials are "disappointed the Attorney General's Office is pursuing an unfounded allegation made by the Deseret Morning News . . . Their reporter was not privy to the confidential discussions and therefore has no knowledge to judge the propriety of such conversations."
In its defense, the district cites a clause of the Utah Open Meetings Act that allows the "deployment of security personnel" to be discussed in closed meetings.
A district lawyer has reviewed the tapes of the discussions, and argues the closed-meeting records are protected and the A.G.'s office has no right to them.
"We, too, are concerned the Attorney General's Office is both expending public funds and requiring Jordan School District to spend its limited funds to defend an action we believe is without merit," the district's statement said. "Jordan district has always conducted its business in the open, consistent with the Utah Open Meetings Act, and will continue to communicate with its taxpayers with the utmost integrity. "