EUSD reaffirms abiding to open meeting laws

ENCINITAS — The Encinitas Union School District reaffirmed — once more — that it would abide by state open-meeting laws months after board members attended a management retreat in Palm Springs without the public’s knowledge, but did not acknowledge that the retreat violated the rules.

Four of the board’s five members attended the August retreat, which several residents and ultimately a state open-government watchdog, claimed violated the Ralph M. Brown Act, the state laws that protect residents’ rights to open meetings. This prompted the watchdog group, Californians Aware, to slap the district with a cease-and-desist letter, which, among other things, required the district to acknowledge the breach and unconditionally commit to refraining from such action at an open session of a board meeting.

The board Tuesday approved an agenda item in which they, while not acknowledging wrongdoing, agreed to refrain from taking actions similar to the board retreat in August. Specifically, the item stated the district would refrain from failing to comply with the Brown Act when a majority of the board congregates and discusses items within its subject matter jurisdiction and holding meetings outside of the district’s boundaries in violation of the Brown Act.

The school board originally believed it satisfied the legal action in October when it met in closed session at a special meeting and then reported out of closed session that it would unconditionally abide by the Brown Act. But the attorney representing Californians Aware said that the action was insufficient, as state statute required the district take the action in an open session during a separately noticed agenda item.

The Coast News has reached out to Kelly Aviles, the attorney representing Californians Aware, and will update the story with her comments.

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