Churchill School Board Sued For Meeting Violations

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The Nevada Attorney General's Office has filed a lawsuit against the Churchill County school board alleging repeat violations of the state's open meeting law.

The suit, filed in Third Judicial District Court, alleges school trustees broke the law at a February board meeting and again in March, the Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle Standard reported Friday.

It asks a judge to order the board to obey the law.

An investigation and the ensuing legal action was prompted by complaints filed by the newspaper against school district trustees.

According to the suit, the board violated the law in February when it discussed contract negotiations for incoming Superintendent Donn Livoni, who begins his new job the Tuesday.

The board broke the law again in March when it refused to give a copy of a tape recording made during a closed session to Assistant Superintendent Gary Imelli after he requested it in writing, the suit contends.

According to the complaint, trustees met in closed session March 27 to discuss whether or not to renew Imelli's contract.

"During this closed meeting, the board did not discuss the character, competence, alleged misconduct or physical or mental health of Mr. Imelli," the complaint said.

Instead, the complaint said, the board decided it would not allow public comment on Imelli's contract renewal and "held a discussion on how to handle the public comment section of the meeting."

After Imelli requested a copy of the taped meeting, he received a letter from Board Chairman Paul Hinz, who informed him he was not entitled to the tape because trustees did not discuss his character or cmpetence, the lawsuit said.

State law limits what elected bodies can discuss during closed personnel sessions. It also give the employee involved a right to a copy of the taped meeting.

Imelli also filed an open meeting law complaint with the attorney general's office.

The suit asks a judge to declare the board in violation on both instances and to issue an injunction prohibiting such conduct in the future.

It also requests that tape recordings of the illegal meetings be made public.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)