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April 29, 2020

Requests: Did the Bismarck Public School District #1 violate the open records law when it discarded requested handwritten notes? Did the Bismarck Public School Board violate the open meetings law by not making a proper announcement before proceeding into an executive session?

Conclusions: The Bismarck Public School District received a request for records, including handwritten notes from a particular meeting. The School District located the notes but determined the handwriting was not easily readable so it transcribed the notes verbatim into a word document, discarded the handwritten notes, and provided the word document. The Bismarck Public School District violated the law when it threw away records that were subject to a pending record request. 

The Bismarck Public School Board announced the topic of its executive session was “complaints raised to the district.” At the time of the meeting, the complaints themselves were confidential pursuant to N.D.C.C. Section 15.1-07-25. Therefore the Board could not reveal any information within the complaints or discuss the complaints in the open portion of the meeting. In view of the foregoing, the School Board’s announcement complied with the law because it sufficiently described the topic of the executive session.

Opinion 2020-O-02

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