by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A unanimous three-judge panel of the N.C. Court of Appeals has reversed a trial court’s ruling and sided with the Burlington Times-News in a dispute with the Alamance-Burlington school board involving access to minutes of the board’s closed-door discussions. The appellate judges have ruled that the trial judge in the case should review the minutes “in camera” — a legal phrase “meaning in private, not in open court” — to determine which portions of the minutes should remain private and which can be released to the public.
Judge Richard Dietz writes:
[C]ore personnel information such as the details of work performance and the reasons for an employee’s departure will remain permanently exempt from disclosure. But other aspects of the board’s discussion in the closed session, including the board’s own political and policy considerations, are not protected from disclosure. On remand, the trial court must review the minutes and determine which information is exempt from disclosure and which should be disclosed to the public.
Among other opinions released this morning from the N.C. Court of Appeals: