Opinion

Kudos to agencies responding to new public records training legislation | Editorial

Agencies in Central Whidbey seem to be getting on the Open Public Meetings Act training bandwagon.

And the newspaper couldn’t be more pleased.

The concern about agencies following the state law came to light last month after the Coupeville School Board handled its appointment of a vacant seat  in a way that could violate the law.

The issue was quickly remedied during that meeting, but it’s concerning that it happened at all.

The incident gave the newspaper an opportunity to highlight new legislation that requires elected officials to seek regular training on the Open Public Meetings Act and public records law.

The new legislation goes into effect July 1, 2014 and requires newly elected officials to get training within 90 days and then every four years after that.

In response to the concern expressed last month, the Coupeville School District held board training Monday during its regular council meeting.

District administrator Janet Wojenski, who is the district’s public records officer, provided a presentation with information from the state Attorney General’s Office and the Washington State School Directors’ Association.

The presentation was very clear and concise and gave the board great examples of ways they could get tripped up on the law by forwarding emails and inadvertently meeting in quorums.

Kudos to the school board for quickly responding to concerns and providing that training.

Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard is also jumping on the training bandwagon. After news about the school district issue came out last month, she told Coupeville Town Council about the new law and is currently organizing a training session for town officials through the town’s insurance provider.

She said she was going to extend an invitation to other agencies in the area to participate in the training, and that officials from Ebey’s Reserve National Historical Reserve had already expressed interest in participating.

It’s great to see agencies in Central Whidbey responding so positively and taking active steps to meet these new requirements.

Making decisions that involve public agencies and public funds is a big job and requires a lot of trust on the public’s part.

This new training requirement is another tool to help elected officials in their roles as public servants.

 

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