Massachusetts School Boards Debate Propriety of Blogging School Board Members

Written By: Robert Cox

CSanderson.jpegIn a story that may well come to have national implications, the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachussets has been asked to “clarify” whether blogs, and in particular comment sections on blogs, can become quorums for purposes of Open Meeting Law.

Five concerned School Committee chiefs are investigating whether blog postings written by public officials and the often-anonymous threads that follow them somehow violate the state’s Open Meeting Law. On May 18, the leaders of all the Amherst-area school boards…sent a letter to the Northwestern district attorney’s office seeking a legal opinion on the matter.

The letter to the Massachusetts AG is here.

The actions appear to have been prompted by two area school board members who operate popular, controversial blogs that discuss school board issues. Other board members read the blogs and some have commented on the blogs but not always identified themselves.

Catherine Sanderson (pictured above) runs the My School Committee Blog. Rick Hood runs the Amherst School Talk blog.

Many supporters of the blogs see the letter to the Attorney General as an attempt by some board members to shut down blogs they do not like. That may well be the case but the questions raised in the letter are good ones that do need to be answered.

Is democracy better served if elected school board and city council members blog? Comment on blogs like this one? Do blogs help or hinder the Open Meeting Law? Should a school board or other elected deliberative body have the ability to curtail a members First Amendment rights?

What do you think?