Carroll County Attorney John Werden
Carroll County Attorney John Werden

August 5, 2019

To The Editor:

Louis D. Brandeis famously wrote in Harper’s Weekly over a century ago: “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” Government cannot function properly without it. The political process should not be insulated from public oversight.

I read the recent coverage about the school board’s decision to end the former superintendent’s contract during the first year of a multiple year contract.

Many of us had heard various stories going around. Your coverage shed some light on the topic. The decision involved a lot of money. It is definitely of widespread public interest.

Closed sessions are important for a candid evaluation of an employee. However, I think taxpayers deserve to know something more than “because we say so,” especially when it appears to cost something near $100,000 for wages, recruitment and legal expenses.

The school district lawyer probably advised the board members to say nothing, and no wonder for this type of advice in view of our litigious society.

While personnel files are not public records, that statute has nothing to do with an elected official stating their reasons for their official action. The perhaps wise course to remain silent comes at a cost: public confidence suffers. Thanks for offering some information. I am now satisfied that a good decision was made.

John C. Werden

Carroll County Attorney