Hettinger Public School violated the open meetings law by not properly describing the subject of the executive session at the meeting, an inadequate announcement before the executive session began and by talking about topics outside of those announced, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said in a Jan. 19 opinion.

At the school board’s regular meeting on Jan. 13, 2021, members received a letter from the Hettinger Agriculture Education Advisory Board Committee recommending the agriculture education program teaching position become full-time, according to Stenehjem. The board passed a motion to go into executive session citing a North Dakota Century Code. The executive session was listed in the meeting agenda as “Negotiations of Contracts,” and lasted about 41 minutes.

After returning to the open part of the meeting, a motion was made and passed to “continue with the present Vocational Agriculture and Family Consumer Science Teacher position as the current position” and leave the “Vocational Agriculture and Family and Consumer Science as a combined teaching position.”

The board denied a request for a copy of the recording. The meeting was recorded, and a copy was provided to Stenehjem’s office.

Stenehjem says to correct this violation, the board will need to revise the meeting notice, include a description of the executive session providing the general subject matter and post it at the school district office for one week. The board must also amend its meeting to reflect the executive session discussion, provide updated notice and minutes or the recording to the requester, at the requester’s option and at no cost.