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LPCS board gets Open Meetings Law lesson

Boards must provide public access to meeting material

Attorney Doug Gerhardt gives the Lake Placid Central School Board a lesson on the Open Meetings Law and Freedom of Information Law during the Feb. 21 meeting.

Attorney Doug Gerhardt gives the Lake Placid Central School Board a lesson on the Open Meetings Law and Freedom of Information Law during the Feb. 21 meeting. Photo by Andy Flynn.

— Attorney Doug Gerhardt Feb. 21 gave the Lake Placid Central School Board of Education a brief lesson on the state’s newest amendments to the Open Meetings Law.

In addition, Gerhardt gave board members a primer of the state’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).

“We happen to do things pretty efficiently here in Lake Placid, so you’re pretty adept at that,” Gerhardt said. “When you get a FOIL request, it goes to the records access officer designated ... so that’s done very effectively. Some districts are not as adept as you are.”

In short, the Freedom of Information Law says that the public has a right to know how its government operates by providing access to public records. Both the FOIL and Open Meetings Law are overseen by the New York State Department’s Committee on Open Government.

Starting Feb. 2 under the Open Meetings Law, the New York state government began requiring boards to give the public access to their records scheduled for discussion at their meetings.

“The law says that if you regularly maintain a website, documents that are going to be discussed in a public session of the public body should be put up on that website in advance of that meeting,” Gerhardt said. “The idea was that it would be helpful for the public to know not only what the agenda is but also to see the documents that the board is discussing. Otherwise, how can they be fully informed? That was the intent, and it makes a lot of sense.”

The Lake Placid Central School District already provides meeting material on its website: http://lpds-ny.schoolloop.com.

To access the meeting information, click on the “Board of Education” button at the top of the home page. Once on the BOE landing page, the agenda is listed as a PDF attachment on the right-hand column. For the meeting packet, click on “2011-12 Board and Committee Minutes.” Then click “Attachments 2011-12 Board Agenda.” That’s where the meeting packets are located, including Gerhardt’s “Feb. 21, 2012 Open Meeting Law Presentation.”

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