- Associated Press - Friday, September 12, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - There is probable cause that a southwest Iowa school district violated the state’s open meetings law when it met privately to discuss the firing of a principal, according to a state investigation.

The Iowa Public Information Board said the five-member board of the Red Oak Community School District failed to properly vote to close an April 10 meeting and broke the law on April 14 when it failed to appropriately apprise the public of an agenda item.

Each board member could face fines of up to $2,500 per violation, The Des Moines Register reported (http://dmreg.co/1D1wqh1 ). The Iowa Public Information Board will make a decision on the issue when it meets on Sept. 18.

The school board voted earlier this year to consider terminating Red Oak High School principal Jedd Sherman’s contract. Sherman said at the time the board was trying to fire him in retaliation for his reporting of two cases of student bullying, among other things.

The school district later agreed to pay Sherman $100,000 in exchange for him resigning.

The state’s open meetings law says a government body can hold professional competency discussions in private if the affected employee requests it. Sherman said he wanted the discussions open.

Greg Barntsen, an attorney representing Red Oak, said audio of the April 10 meeting will resolve some of the issues brought up by the information board. He added that he doesn’t expect the board members to be fined since they were acting on the advice of another attorney.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

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