Members of public excluded from open school tours

Members of public excluded from open school tours

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Residents who showed up for a Sept. 4 tour of two new elementary schools were upset after being told they wouldn’t be allowed in.

The tours of the new Stephen Olney Elementary School and McGuire Elementary School were both publicly advertised by both the School Committee and Town Council on the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s website. The School Committee had also announced the tours, and The Breeze had reported that they would be open to the public.

One resident said she was especially upset to be kept out because she'd skipped an evening class to be there.

Officials confirmed that people were kept out because this was only intended as a tour for public officials. Such a move constitutes a violation of the Open Meetings Act. The Breeze will not be filing an OMA complaint because a reporter for the paper was allowed in and thus is not considered an aggrieved party.

School Committee Chairman Frank Pallotta did not respond to requests for comment. Town Council President Dino Autiello said he authorized the town clerk to post the tours as a public meeting of the council because he knew all council members were planning to attend.

“On our end, my job was just to post it because we were all in the room,” he said. “The rest of it I was unaware of.”

Those residents who did show up and try to join the tours were told that the schools will host public tours at a later date.

The School Committee posted the tours as an open session of a special meeting. The Town Council also listed it as an open meeting but its agenda stated that Supt. Joseph Goho would conduct a tour of the two new schools for the School Committee and Town Council specifically.

Goho said it wasn’t his call to set the parameters for the tours.

Comments

Here we go again. Just another example of the poor management of affairs within the school committee!

I guess the public is only allowed to pay for the new schools, not actually see what they paid for.