CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Attorney General Alan Wilson is responding to a request from Lowcountry lawmakers to investigate whether the Charleston County School District Board of Trustees complied with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requirements.
It comes after the board entered executive session on September 25 to discuss an employment matter and returned to vote on placing Dr. Eric Gallien on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.
In his letter to State Representative Marvin Pendarvis, Solicitor General Robert Cook said his office is unable to adjudicate whether FOIA was violated and that only a court had that authority.
“Only a court, in possession of all the facts, and with the authority to resolve cases or controversies, may do so,” he wrote.
However, the AG’s office stated that based on its prior opinions, and the decisions of South Carolina courts, they do believe that a court would likely conclude that FOIA’s requirements for convening in executive session were not met.
“The watchword of our FOIA opinions for decades has been “when in doubt, disclose.” Based upon our prior opinions and the decisions of the South Carolina Supreme Couty, we are of the opinion, with the information before us, that a court would probably find that the requirements of FOIA regarding a public body convening in executive session were here not met.”
AG Wilson’s office also included examples from South Carolina law which back up the FOIA requirements.
The Attorney General Office’s advice to the board, they said, would have been to essentially follow past decisions of the SC Supreme Court instead of announcing the executive session by “mere catchphrase.”