in Houston, Texas
Open doors: San Antonio ISD trustees call off closed meetings
Wednesday, Jul 18, 2012, 02:11PM CST
By Curt Olson

San Antonio Independent School District trustees got shamed into doing the right thing Tuesday.

Instead of conducting a “self-evaluation” behind closed doors followed by a second closed door meeting today with an Austin consultant, trustees canceled the meetings before the first one started, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

Consultant Tracy Gross met with trustees earlier this year behind closed doors to help them get past leadership issues they had with former Superintendent Robert Duron. They had divisions over plans for Alamo Stadium.

These two meetings, which were set for the southtown restaurant Azuca and paid for by H-E-B grocery chief Charles Butt, will be rescheduled for an open session.

Trustees were chastised by SAISD parent Celina Peña, who serves on a district advisory committee that oversees projects paid for by a $515 million bond issue. She didn’t like the precedent the board would set to justify doing the same thing in the future for other reasons.

“I welcome the opportunity for them to improve themselves, but does it come at a cost?” Peña told the Express-News.

The Express-News had its owner, Hearst Corp., make the case against the closed meetings through attorney Heather L. Dietrick.

She argued that trustees cited an exemption for executive sessions that apply only to district employees and public officers — not elected trustees. Dietrick also objected to the meeting being held in a second-floor room of the restaurant that was not wheelchair accessible. She also questioned the size of the meeting room for the public.

“Credibility is perhaps more important than getting board members to feel 100 percent comfortable in talking in public,” SAISD Board President Ed Garza said to the Express-News.

Contact Curt Olson at or 512-557-3800. Follow him on Twitter @olson_curt.

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Photo of 'peeking' by flickr user littlefishyjess, used via a Creative Commons license.

Sunday, 07/22/2012 - 11:47PM

The exception applies to employees and public officers. Is not a school trustee a "public officer"? They do, after all, hold a public office. The newspaper's lawyer clearly got it wrong on this one. But, hey, let's not let the law get in the way of "journalism."

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