Technological problems don’t excuse meetings violation

The Coupeville School Board inadvertently violated the state Open Public Meetings Act by holding a meeting Monday night that many people couldn’t watch due to a technological snafu.

Like every other local government body, the school board held its meeting online to avoid potentially exposing anyone to COVID-19.

There was a lot of interest in the meeting because Superintendent Steve King announced that staff cuts are likely since the district’s reserve funds have dwindled to under 1 percent and it’s unclear how the pandemic will impact state education funding.

People have tough questions about how and why the reserves were allowed to get to such an unhealthy state.

But many people were left in the dark because Google Stream didn’t allow outside domains, according to a school official. School officials knew about the problem as the meeting was starting. The meeting should have been postponed until the problem was resolved.

The governor’s proclamation 20-28 is clear. “Any public agency, subject to RCW 42.30, is prohibited from conducting any meeting, subject to RCW 42.30 unless (a) the meeting is not conducted in-person and instead provides an option(s) for the public to attend the proceedings through, at minimum, telephonic access, and may also include other electronic, internet or other means of remote access, and (b) provides the ability for all persons attending the meeting to hear each other at the same time.

Obviously, the public did not have, at minimum, telephonic access. It’s also unclear why the board didn’t use a streaming service that other boards and councils on the island have had success with.

The cure to the violation is for the board to repeat the meeting with public access that works. This is far from ideal since board members and school officials have already discussed the issues and any significant extemporaneous remarks have been lost to the ether of cyberspace.

But even if it’s just a redo, it should be redone. Government transparency should not be a casualty of the pandemic.

More in Opinion

In Our Opinion: It’s time for governor to put social distancing behind us

It’s time for the days of mandatory social distancing to come to… Continue reading

Sound Off: Coverage of clear-cutting on island doesn’t tell complete story

Your recent article, “Despite how it may seem, clear-cutting not increasing,” lacks… Continue reading

From the Editor: Press releases always welcome, but they are just the first step

People are a lot more savvy about how newspapers work than they… Continue reading

Manke
Sound Off: This is a time to renew our pledge to remember the fallen

For many, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer. The end of… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Illegal or not, Coupeville school board actions troubling

As role models for students, school boards should strive to follow the… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: With candidate filing week at hand, it’s time to run for office

The outcome of this year’s election could have a significant impact on… Continue reading

Sound Off: Rethinking proposed bans on natural gas

By Don Brunell Sometimes being first isn’t good. Such is the case… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Disputes unmask extent of misinformation, confusion about face coverings

Together with social distancing, donning a face covering is proven to be… Continue reading

Sound Off: State’s military, economy rely on Super Hornet funding

Washington state is an important state for our country’s Armed Services and… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: History of Whidbey Island law enforcement is one of reform

Whidbey Island residents are lucky to have the professionally run law enforcement… Continue reading

Sound Off: Climate on the agenda this year; carbon tax should be too

A few weeks into the new administration, the federal government is off… Continue reading

Smaller, safer nuclear reactors in works for Hanford reservation

It isn’t often we hear good news from the Hanford, but the… Continue reading