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Hattiesburg public school district violates state's open meetings act

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Hattiesburg Public School District (HPSD) is under scrutiny after a citizen, Ellen Ciurczak, filed a complaint to the Ethics Commission stating the Board of Trustees went into executive session and violated the state's open meetings act.

Ciurczak said, "They held that vote in executive session, and I saw no reason why that vote needed to be held in executive session."

The Board of Trustees voted on the selection of educational consulting P3 strategies, which works with the district and state on setting and reaching goals for the entire district.

"The question and answer was held in executive session, and I think that was an issue that would have been in interest to the public" said Ciurzak. She added, "It would have been an education to the public as the Board made its decision on whether to hire P3 strategies."

The Ethics Commission released a final order concluding that the district did violate the state's open meetings act.

HPSD's Director of Communications, Jas N Smith said, "Now that we've had this clarification and findings from the Ethics Commission, it allows the Board to then change their practice going forward."

The district claims they went into executive session to discuss personnel matters or potential contacts.

Smith continued, "We won't be using the same reasons and we will be more transparent for the community when we do have meetings for executive session."

The Ethics Commission ordered the Board of Trustees to refrain from further violations and comply strictly with the open meetings act.



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