For immediate release
January 20, 2017
Judge rules Spotswood School Board violated Meetings Act
In a January 7, 2017 court order, Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Lisa M. Vignuolo ruled that the Spotswood Board of Education violated the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) in five different ways. Vignuolo found that the Board violated OPMA by failing to:
- Inform the public of the topics to be discussed in closed meetings;
- Inform the public when the discussion held in closed session would be publicly disclosed;
- Keep reasonably comprehensible minutes of its closed meetings;
- Notify at least two newspapers in advance of its public meetings; and
- Set forth in its public meeting minutes the manner in which the meeting was advertised to the public.
The court order arose out of a lawsuit filed on August 8, 2016 by the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government (NJFOG), a non-profit organization that promotes governmental transparency. NJFOG’s October 6, 2016 Motion for Summary Judgment and legal brief directly led to the order’s entry.
NJFOG was represented by Anthony H. Ogozalek, Jr. of Cinnaminson, and the Spotswood Board of Education was represented by Patrick F. Carrigg of Lawrenceville.
In addition to the OPMA claims, the lawsuit also sought relief under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA). The OPRA claims were settled by an October 2016 agreement in which the Spotswood Board agreed to pay $2,500 toward NJFOG’s legal costs.
The New Jersey Foundation for Open Government (NJFOG) is the only non-profit organization in the state dedicated solely to improving public access to governmental records and meetings. We work to educate the public about the Open Public Records Act and Open Public Meetings Act as well as increase governmental compliance, transparency, and accountability.