BEVERLY — A resident has filed an open meeting law complaint against the Beverly School Committee regarding a last-minute school reopening proposal presented by one of its members earlier this month.
The complaint questions whether some School Committee members deliberated on the proposal outside of a public meeting, thereby violating the state's open meeting law.
The complaint was submitted by Penny Lane resident Charles Kostro, who is also the executive director of the Essex Regional Retirement System. It involves a proposal for the reopening of the schools presented by School Committee member Lorinda Visnick at the committee's Aug. 6 meeting, the night the committee was scheduled to vote on reopening options that had been presented by Superintendent Suzanne Charochak at previous meetings.
Kostro said in his complaint that the School Committee could have violated in the open meeting law if four or more members discussed Visnick's proposal before the meeting.
"If a quorum of the Committee, whether collectively or in individual, serial communications, deliberated on Ms. Visnick's proposal, or on a strategy for its presentation, and did so outside of the posted public meeting, this would constitute a violation of the Open Meeting Law," Kostro wrote.
The School Committee, after 5 1/2 hours of discussion, ultimately approved Charochak's plans for students in grades seven through 12 to attend school remotely, and for younger students to do a combination of in-person and remote learning. Visnick's proposal would have created a phased re-opening.
Kostro asked the School Committee to have its lawyer review the matter to determine whether an open meeting violation occurred, and that a "full and transparent" account of the findings be provided to the committee in a public meeting.
According to state law, the committee must respond to the complaint in writing within 14 business days and send a copy of the response to the state Attorney General's office. If Kostro is not satisfied with the response, he can file a copy of the complaint with the Attorney General's Division of Open Government, which enforces the open meeting law.
The School Committee is scheduled to review the complaint at its meeting on Wednesday night. School Committee President Rachael Abell said she could not comment until the committee discusses the complaint in open session. Visnick could not be reached for comment.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535 or email@example.com.