- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 16, 2016

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi Ethics Commission has found the Hattiesburg Public School District Board of Trustees in violation of the state’s Open Meetings Act in a preliminary report and recommendation issued March 4.

The Hattiesburg American reports (https://hatne.ws/1ptDaSV) hearing Officer Tom Hood found the board’s three reasons for entering two executive sessions during its May 5, 2015, meeting were all invalid.

Board attorney Percy Watson has asked for 20 days to file objections to the preliminary report, which would necessitate a hearing before Hood.

The state Open Meetings Act declares the formation and determination of public policy is public business and shall be conducted at open meetings. In executive session, the public is excluded from the proceedings.

The Hattiesburg American filed a complaint with the ethics commission shortly after the May 5 school board meeting, alleging the board had violated the Open Meetings Act by going into executive session to discuss its vote to approve a contract with P3 Strategies LLC of Jackson to provide a strategic plan for Hattiesburg Public School District for $225,000. The American had published a report critical of one of the members of P3 Strategies, Irving Hamer.



Hamer was accused of sexual harassment while in the employ of Memphis City Schools. The New York Times also reported he failed to disclose a conflict of interest due to an oversight while a member of the New York Board of Education.

It ordered the board to refrain from further violations and to comply strictly with the sections of Mississippi Code of 1972.

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Information from: The Hattiesburg American, https://www.hattiesburgamerican.com

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