South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Mehlville, Call set Sunshine Law seminar

A seminar on the Missouri Open Meetings and Records Law, also called the Sunshine Law, will be co-sponsored later this month by the Mehlville School District and Call Newspapers.

The Sunshine Law seminar will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, March 21, at the Lindbergh High School auditorium, 4900 S. Lindbergh Blvd.

The seminar is designed to provide an overview of the Sunshine Law and will feature presentations by representatives of the Missouri Press Association and the Missouri Attorney General’s Office.

Attorney Jean Maneke of the Maneke Law Group and James Klahr of the Attorney General’s Office will be the featured speakers.

Maneke, who has been practicing media, publishing and entertainment law for more than 25 years, serves as counsel to the Missouri Press Association. She is the author of many of the changes made to Missouri’s Sunshine Law since the 1990s and also is a frequent lecturer on this topic.

Maneke formerly was a journalist and worked as a reporter for numerous newspapers and magazines, most notably having served as a reporter and columnist for the Kansas City Times, predecessor to the current Kansas City Star.

Klahr earned his law degree from Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., in 1994 and served as a staff attorney in the Division of Senate Research from 1994 to 1997.

In August 1997, he became an assistant attorney general in charge of legislative affairs. In this position, his responsibilities include drafting legislation, testifying before committees and responding to legislators’ questions involving the Attorney General’s Office.

Since 1998, Klahr has been one of the office contacts for questions involving the Sunshine Law and has provided numerous presentations to local government officials on the topic.

Jerry Chambers, Mehlville School District interim superintendent, said, “I am pleased that a seminar on Missouri’s Sunshine Law has been scheduled for March 21. This seminar will be open to the public and will address details of the Sunshine Law as it applies to school districts in the state of Missouri. Having attended two of these seminars in the past, I am confident it will be an excellent event. I urge anyone interested to attend. It is free to all attendees and will be a very informative experience.

“As superintendent, I will strongly encourage all our administrators to attend. Other staff members, parents, students and patrons of the Mehlville School District are welcome. The seminar is also open and free to other school districts in our area,” Chambers said, noting that the district’s journalism students and teachers also have been invited to attend.

“It is anticipated that the members of the Mehlville Board of Education will also participate. I urge all board candidates to attend. I look forward to increased awareness and a better understanding of the Sunshine Law. I applaud the Board of Education and Call Newspapers for agreeing to this seminar and working cooperatively to plan it,” he added.

Board of Education President Ken Leach said, “I think this is going to be a great event. This will be something that should be interesting for a lot of people, not just to us.

“No. 1, I think this is a good step in everyone coming together, and that’s one of the main things I see,” Leach said. “Secondly, I don’t think you can ever go wrong whenever you try to gather more knowledge on any subject. So it will be enlightening no matter how you look at it. Everybody will walk away with something from this. Thirdly, I think it will be a good opportunity to pull together people from a number of different walks of life, including our high school journalism students, and will promote some intelligent conversation and maybe even some relationships (among south county governmental entities). I’m looking forward to it.”

Call Newspapers General Manager Bill Milligan said, “Often governments and their attorneys have a different interpretation of Missouri’s Sunshine Law than people get from reading the statute. Rather than prolong the debate, Call Newspapers and the Mehlville School District have decided to bring together the state’s leading experts to explain the law so that we may move forward together with a better understanding of this cornerstone principle of good government. We are pleased to partner with Mehlville to provide this important presentation.”

Call Newspapers Publisher Deb Baker said, “The people’s right to know is at the core of this important meeting. Everyone can benefit and learn from this interesting, informative and timely seminar. Open meetings and records laws vary state to state. Get to know your state’s open meetings and records law.”

School board members who attend the March 21 Sunshine Law seminar will be eligible to receive two Certified Board Member credits from the Missouri School Boards Association for Advanced or Masters CBM Levels.

Co-sponsorship of the Sunshine Law seminar is one of the terms of the settlement of a lawsuit filed by Call Newspapers against the Board of Education and then-Superintendent Timothy Ricker in May 2004.

The lawsuit alleged “purposeful” violations of the Missouri Open Meetings and Records Law, also called the Sunshine Law, relating to information that had been requested by the newspaper in late 2003 and early 2004. The district and other named defendants denied the allegations of the lawsuit.

Representatives of the school district and newspaper reached the agreement last fall during a settlement conference at the district’s Administration Building.

Settlement discussions centered on the mutual goal of increasing public awareness about the importance of the Sunshine Law and a joint desire to resolve the lawsuit in an effort to help move the school district and community forward in a positive direction.

The settlement is a compromise of disputed claims and is not an admission of liability by any of the parties.

Those who plan to attend the Sunshine Law seminar are asked to RSVP by March 16 to the Mehlville School District at (314) 467-5152.

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