Hays NEA files open meetings complaint

Posted December 3, 2013

By JUDY SHERARD, Hays Daily News

The Hays National Education Association has filed an investigation request into an alleged violation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act by the Hays USD 489 Board of Education.

The request, filed Sept. 13 by Kathy Rome, KNEA UniServ director, alleges the board "violated the KOMA in offering a contract to the interim superintendent."

"It was something that was supported by a majority of the officers and building reps that make up the Hays-NEA," Rome said of the filing.

"I never would have filed something like this if they were not supportive of it."

The board's Aug. 19 meeting agenda included selection of an interim superintendent that stated the board would "need to take action to approve the offering of a contract to the interim superintendent candidate."

When that agenda item came up in the board meeting, the board approved a motion by board member Marty Patterson to table the interim superintendent position until the Sept. 16 board meeting.

On Aug. 23, the district office announced "that the board of education has selected Dean Katt to fill the position," Rome said.

"Somewhere in there, they had to have made a decision from the time that they tabled that at the board meeting, (and) by Friday they had made a decision as to who to offer a contract."

Rome filled the investigation request online to the state attorney general's office.

"Then I also took a copy to the (Ellis) County Attorney's office," she said.

That request is stamped that it was received by the Ellis County attorney Sept. 13.

When H-NEA representatives hadn't heard from the attorney general's office or the Ellis County attorney's office by Sept. 26, Rome resubmitted the request.

"It just is concerning about the lack of follow-up from the county attorney's office," Rome said.

Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees said he is looking into the allegation, but has no timeline set when the investigation will be finished.

If the violation is found to have occurred, the teachers' union is asking the offer to Katt be voided.

"This has nothing to do with Mr. Katt at all. It's simply that we feel that our school board should follow the laws, and follow the procedures as they should be," Rome said.

Greg Schwartz, BOE president, declined to comment on the siuation.