AG investigating open meetings complaint against school board

AG investigating open meetings complaint against school board

PAWTUCKET - Lisa Pinsonneault, special assistant attorney general for the state of Rhode Island, announced last week that her office is proceeding with an investigation of an open records complaint by The Breeze against the Pawtucket School Committee.

On Aug. 8, Breeze reporter Ethan Shorey filed a complaint stating that he was locked out of a School Committee meeting on Aug. 6. Shorey repeatedly pressed the buzzer at the entrance of the school administration building, an alternative site for school board meetings, and also banged on the door a number of times. It wasn't until 14 minutes into what ended up being a 28-minute meeting that someone unaffiliated with the school board let him in.

School Committee members, as well as other school officials in attendance at the meeting, would later say that they heard nothing.

The following is an excerpt from the Aug. 8 complaint:

"This is not the first time the Pawtucket School Committee has had an issue with keeping people from attending its meetings. I contend that locking people out of the building is having a chilling effect on public participation and the right of the people to know what their elected officials are doing..."

According to Pinsonneault, a copy of the open meetings complaint was forwarded to legal counsel for the Pawtucket School Committee. After The Breeze receives a copy of the school board's response, the paper will then have five business days to offer a reply before the matter heads toward a final decision.