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Lawsuit alleges Montana's Board of Public Education violated state open meeting laws

Gavel and Themis statue in the court library.
Zolnierek/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Gavel and Themis statue in the court library.

The state’s largest union and a statewide nonprofit news organization have sued Montana’s Board of Public Education, alleging it violated the state’s public participation open meeting laws.

The Montana Federation of Public Employees and the Daily Montanan are asking a Lewis and Clark County judge to void action taken by the Board of Public Education in early March.

The plaintiffs allege the board didn’t give proper public notice before it voted against an update to the Montana teacher code of ethics developed by an education advisory council that would have included “equity” as part of the code.

During that March 10 meeting, chairwoman Tammy Lacey asked board attorney Katherine Orr’s advice on the action.

“Your advice to the board would be to not take action at this board meeting because it hasn’t been properly noticed to the public," Lacey said. "Is that correct?”

“That’s correct," Orr responded.

During that meeting, Lt. Gov. Kristen Juras and other members of the board disagreed with the legal advice.

Board of Public Education Executive Director McCall Flynn declined MTPR’s request for comment Wednesday, saying it has not yet been formally served with the complaint.

Copyright 2022 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.