Haywood County’s first charter school, Shining Rock Classical Academy, is under fire. Please read the following analysis of the problem as presented in the Smoky Mountain News and consider if this is more of a transparency problem than when a county decides to award megamillions to a secret multinational using a code name like Project X for the public hearing. As you recall, Buncombe County’s mysterious Project X also involved Facilities A and B.

On July 3, the charter school board held a closed session meeting to discuss property acquisition, then emerged from closed session and openly voted to buy land. Specifically, the board voted to authorize Keilberg to “execute a contract for the purchase of certain real estate,” subject to the terms of negotiation discussed in closed session. That vote made the purchase a done deal without ever saying where the property was located.
The charter school board refused to reveal the location of the property, even after voting to buy it, stating that the sale wasn’t final until the contract was actually signed. The location of the property — a 35-acre field at the corner of Raccoon Road and U.S. 276 — wasn’t announced until a week later.
Refusing to disclose the property location is a violation of the N.C. Open Meetings Law, according to Mike Tadych, a media law expert and attorney for the N.C. Press Association with Stevens Martin Vaughn & Tadych in Raleigh.
The Open Meetings law specifically “prohibits members of a public body from acting by reference,” Tadych said, citing state statute 143-318.13(c). But that is exactly what the SRCA board did when it voted to approve the purchase.
Haywood County Commissioner Chairman Mark Swanger — who is also a former chairman of the Haywood County School Board — said public bodies can’t vote on something without saying what it is they are voting on. The property must be identified at the time the board votes to buy it, not after the ink is dry some days later, he said.