Colonial School Board Member Expresses Transparency Concerns

Cathy Peduzzi, a member of the Colonial School Board, has taken to Facebook to express concerns over transparency on the school board due to a meeting she states is being organized by fellow school board member Feliz Raimondo.

According to Peduzzi’s post (see at bottom), Raimondo has organized a meeting between himself, one current member of the school board, and the four incoming members of the board (who have not yet been sworn in) where they will conduct interviews with potential solicitors for the board.

This meeting is being held on Monday, November 27th at 5:00 p.m. at the Plymouth Township building, according to another not-invited current school board member, Beth Suchsland. Suchsland is the current vice president of the board. She provided this information in the comments under Peduzzi’s post and also questions why the meeting is not being held at the district’s office.

Our first question that arises out of this is whether this is a violation of the Sunshine Law, which is a set of laws meant to bring transparency to government. We shared the details of this meeting with Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel for the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, and she responded with the following:

The Sunshine Act only applies when a quorum of the elected officials deliberate agency business.  If there is no quorum, the Act does not apply.  Members not yet in office do not count towards a quorum.  It sounds like the Act does not apply, but that doesn’t mean the meeting should be private, and skirting the Sunshine Act is really a poor way to start a term as an elected official.

So if what Peduzzi and Suchsland claim is true, Raimondo is basically skirting the Sunshine Law by not inviting all of the current members. There are nine elected school board members. Raimondo, the other current member who is invited, and the four newly elected members will make a majority on the board and be able to replace the current solicitor.

We emailed Raimondo yesterday at 4:07 p.m. and have not yet received a response.

The newly elected members are to be sworn in on December 4th at an official meeting of the Colonial School Board.

More to come (including the money trail if the potential new solicitor is who one person tells us it will be).

Update – After we posted this article, Peduzzi shared on Facebook that she and the others were invited to attend.