In short, HCDE is attempting to use the Texas Public Information Act to nullify a portion of the Texas Open Meetings Act.
It stems from the 8/18/15 HCDE Board Meeting in which secret notes were passed during open session to only one board member after he entered the meeting 2 hours late.
- One note came from the superintendent’s “special assistant.”
- One note was passed from the acting chair to the attorney, who then passed it to the Trustee.
- The third was from the attorney to the Trustee.
30 seconds after receiving the 3rd note, the Trustee remarkably knew which agenda items had not passed previously due to tied votes, and requested to go back and “re-vote.”
The agenda items passed when “re-voted,” which altered the outcome of the meeting.
A request for public information was filed for those notes passed to the tardy Trustee during open session.
HCDE released one document –
a hand written note reading
“6-A-2” and “7-H”
the numbers of the two agenda
HCDE has asked AG Paxton
to block release of the other
“attorney client privilege.”
Why should anyone care?
Because this ruling will set a precedent for all public meetings across the Texas.
If Paxton rules in favor of HCDE, government entities with corrupt leadership like HCDE, will be able to bypass public deliberations during their open meetings.
They can simply hold secret discussions by sending notes, texts or emails via their attorney – claiming attorney client privilege – in order to exclude not only the public, but any member with a minority view.
What can you do?
1. You may register your opinion with AG Paxton via email and encourage him to uphold the Texas Open Meetings Act by urging the Open Records Division to require Harris County Department of Education release all notes passed in secret during open session of their meeting held on 8/18/15.
2. You may contact the three HCDE Trustees working to keep these notes secret and urge them to support government transparency by releasing all notes passed during the open session of their board meeting on 8/18/15.
- Trustee Kay Smith (R): Meeting chair: passed note to Morris via attorney
- Trustee Angie Chesnut (R): Board President email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Special note for Harris County Voters:
…if you think this whole thing STINKS…these three trustees will be on your March Republican Primary ballot:
Kay Smith – running for Texas State Representative
Marvin Morris - running again for HCDE Trustee
Angie Chesnut – running again for HCDE Trustee
Link to my letter to AG: here
Links to my video of HCDE’s 8/18/15 meeting:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4,
Part 4.5, Part 5, Part 6