The USD 386 Madison-Virgil School District held a special meeting Tuesday evening to vote on its new superintendent, without giving explicit prior notice to local media.
According to Superintendent Stephen Jowers, two emails were sent out to The Madison News about the meeting Tuesday before noon, though neither of the emails specifically stated that a special board meeting would occur.
An initial email sent to a reporter stated that the school board would be conducting interviews with candidates for the superintendent position.
“Tomorrow February 28th the board will be starting interviews for superintendent/principal,” Jowers said in an email Monday. “Candidates' names will be released the morning of their interview. We plan to have a community meet and greet at the Sauder Center tomorrow from 4pm-5pm. All community members are welcome to attend and meet the candidate.”
A second email stated that there would be a "meet and greet" for the community to get to know the candidates for the superintendent position and announced the first candidate for superintendent.
“Todays candidate is John Johnson,” Jowers said. “Mr. Johnson is currently serving as High School Principal in Humboldt. Prior to that he was the assistant principal at Humboldt Middle School and has over 12 years of administrative experience. There will be a community meet and greet with Mr. Johnson at the Sauder Center from 4pm-5pm. All community members are welcome to attend.”
At the meeting, the school board voted 7-0 to approve Jr/Sr High School Principal Tammy Baird as the new superintendent.
No email announcing Baird’s candidacy was received.
School Board meetings fall under the Kansas Open Meeting Act, which states that all meetings “must be open to all members of the public” and that “notice of meetings must be provided to anyone who has requested it.”
On Wednesday, School Board President Williams said that the meeting was supposed to be announced and that he was aware that failure to announce a meeting is in violation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act.
Jowers confirmed Wednesday that he sent both emails as prior notification and said he does not believe the district violated the KOMA.
“We posted on social media. I sent two notifications to both newspapers. Neither one inquired about any more information after I sent it,” he said. “... So no, I don't believe we did [violate the KOMA].”
Jowers said he knew the board planned to have a meeting afterward to discuss further action but did not know that the board would be selecting a superintendent that night.
“They were conducting an interview … more than three board members were going to be present, they would have to go into a meeting during the interview to discuss personnel,” he said.
What does Mr. Johnson think of the process?
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