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DeKalb School Board won’t say what it voted on following called meeting

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DeKalb School Board won’t say what it voted on following called meeting

DeKalb County Board of Education members Vickie Turner (left) Anna Hill (center) and board chair Diijon DaCosta (right) listen to questions from the audience for Dr. Devon Horton, sole finalist for the job of superintendent, during a town hall the board hosted at the DeKalb County School District administrative and instructional complex in Stone Mountain on Friday, April 14, 2023. Photo by Dean Hesse.

DeKalb County, GA — The DeKalb County School Board held a called meeting on April 26, went into a closed-door executive session for 90 minutes, came back, and voted on … something.

The school board says its vote pertained to a “personnel matter,” but Board Chair Diijon DaCosta wouldn’t say more than that. Whatever it was, the board voted 6-0 to approve it. It is unclear if School Board member Dr. Joyce Morley attended the meeting, as she usually attends virtually.

“Since it is a personnel matter, we have nothing to release at this time,” DaCosta told reporter Sara Amis following the meeting.

The board’s argument that it does not have to disclose what it had just voted on is unusual, as most votes taken in a public meeting are subject to public disclosure. The state open records and meetings laws generally provide the public with access to meetings and access to records produced as a result of those meetings.

For instance, the DeKalb School Board recently hired Dr. Devon Horton as the next superintendent, and that vote was done in a public meeting, and it was made clear to the public what the board was voting on. Other routine personnel items voted on in executive sessions have always been disclosed to Decaturish and other media outlets upon request. It is unclear what makes this personnel action different from any other the board takes.

Even more mundane matters are disclosed eventually. The board voted at a meeting on April 17 to extend Interim Superintendent Dr. Vasanne Tinsley’s contract through June 30, before Horton’s proposed July 1 start date. That action was not publicly announced then, but a school board spokesperson confirmed it soon after the meeting. The school board has not previously withheld any information from Decaturish concerning any personnel matter.

Decaturish has contacted the school board to request the board provide a legal citation showing that it can withhold information about the subject of the school board’s public vote. Decaturish has also contacted the state Attorney General’s Office, anticipating filing a complaint about this issue if the board can’t provide a proper legal citation for its decision.

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