School trustees to seek counsel on board members’ access to files

The Lebanon Community School District Board of Directors has decided to seek advice from its counsel regarding board member access to district personnel files.

The issue was raised during the Aug. 10 LCSD board meeting by board member Russ McUne during board member comments.

“I’m looking at board policy GBL, which is personnel records,” McUne said.
The policy states those records “will be available for use and inspection” only to certain people and under certain circumstances. Regarding access by board members, it states “while in session, as provided by law.”

“So I hear disturbing information when I hear a board member is in the personnel file room by themselves in the district office to be able to explore and investigate personnel files,” McUne said. “I don’t recall any board action okaying that or saying that’s a good idea or giving someone the authority to do that.

“He’s not here to discuss that but I’m concerned. That cannot happen.”

Mike Martin was the only board member not present at the Aug. 10 meeting.

When contacted after the meeting, Martin declined to comment.

“Somehow, the board has to say our policy is clear that that can’t happen,” McUne said.
Board member Richard Borden said the policy is clear on the matter.

“As an employee, I would be horribly disturbed that my records were accessed,” Borden said. “I’m not sure what to do. We’ve got to take action. This is not acceptable. I’m speechless on this. I just don’t know. We’ve got to take the appropriate action.”

McUne said he wondered if the board should talk to its attorney about whether the incident put trustees or the district at risk.

He wants to make sure it doesn’t happen again, he added.

“An incident did occur and we will seek advice from counsel,” said Board Chair Tom Oliver.

Oliver said the policy and law are very clear.

“We just need to make sure that is effectively communicated to everybody and that everybody is very clear,” Oliver said.