June 5, 2014 Update: The school board’s attorney’s letter to the prosecutor’s office is on-line here.
May 29, 2014
Michael S. Curwin, First Assistant Prosecutor
Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office
70 Hunter Street
Woodbury, NJ 08096
Via e-mail only to [email protected]
Dear Mr. Curwin:
I have received information that the captioned school board did not record minutes of thirteen (13) nonpublic (“closed” or “executive”) meetings held in 2013.
This information came to me from Woolwich resident Tracy Stoehr, who filed an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request for those meeting minutes in March 2014. In response, Business Administrator Michael Griggel informed her, by way of an April 3, 2014 e-mail (on-line here) that “formal minutes had inadvertently not been prepared” for the 2013 meetings and that the Board was “in the process of preparing those minutes and anticipate submitting them to the Board for approval at its meeting next week.” Ms. Stoehr informed me last night that despite Mr. Griggel’s promise, she still has not yet received any closed meeting minutes from 2013 except those from the January 9, 2013 meeting.
I understand that the County Prosecutor’s role in enforcing the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) is to fine those who “knowingly violate” the Act in accordance with N.J.S.A. 10:4-17, and I concede that I have no evidence that the Swedesboro-Woolwich School Board’s failure to record its meeting minutes goes beyond gross negligence. Yet, when I find a particularly egregious OPMA violation I report it to the County Prosecutor’s office with a request that the Prosecutor review the OPMA with the offending public body so as to minimize the possibility of a recurrence of the violation.
I also wish to request that your office work with the Swedesboro-Woolwich School District to establish a deadline by which the missing closed session minutes will be available. Currently, nearly two months have elapsed since Mr. Griggel’s April 3, 2014 e-mail and the missing minutes have yet to be disclosed.
Thank you very much for your attention to this matter.
Very truly yours,
John Paff, Chairman
New Jersey Libertarian Party’s
Open Government Advocacy Project
P.O. Box 5424
Somerset, NJ 08875
e-mail: [email protected]
cc. Mr. Griggel via e-mail only to [email protected]