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Board Blogs December 20, 2005

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
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board   How delightful that a school district in West Bend, Wisconsin, is considering setting up a blog to aid in communication. Of course, when a school district sets up its own blog it also creates a new set of interesting issues and unintended consequences.

One issue already under examination stems from the fact that board members are not free to socialize with each other in case they inadvertently form a quorum of members. Open Meeting laws strictly control meetings of governing board members by specifying advanced advertisement of meetings, invitations to the public, and a posted agenda.

What happens in the virtual world if board member Smith posts a comment read by board members Grijalva and O’Hara who in turn post a reaction to the comment? Technically, they have all communicated a particular position to each other in contravention of open-meeting regulations. Or have they? Such questions are for the lawyers to unravel.

I suspect that board members will simply read the posts to get a sense of what people in their district are saying about key issues. However, even this can cause a problem when readers post rumor and innuendo as fact and inflame tempers and emotions. This could cause a situation where the publishing of a simple misrepresentation, easily cleared up in person, instead grows to a full blown crisis fed by the immediacy of the web log.

On the other hand, in school districts rumors and hearsay abound, a blog might be just the place to put to rest unsubstantiated theorizing and gossip. Some say we should open a window and let the sun shine in on the dark mysterious corners.

Open windows, however, can let in fresh breezes and warming sunlight. They can also let in the rain and a family of raccoons as happened in my cabin in the woods one afternoon. There is nothing like the smell of wet raccoon to add some disorder to a school board meeting.

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