Mayor subject of open meeting law complaint

By MARY BYRNE

Staff Writer

Published: 05-28-2023 11:01 AM

GREENFIELD — The School Committee will hold a special meeting Tuesday evening to discuss an open meeting law complaint filed against Mayor Roxann Wedegartner, who serves on the committee. 

In a complaint filed with the state Attorney General’s Office, Chairwoman Amy Proietti alleges Wedegartner violated the law in two instances. In the first allegation, she cites an email the mayor sent to city councilors and School Committee members on April 20, in which she disputed statements made by Proietti during a City Council meeting the night prior. In the email, she outlines her rationale for citing an enrollment drop of 158 students and how that was connected to the fiscal year 2024 budget. 

“She expresses a personal opinion and shares it in an email, and makes no attempt to make the information public, or share the information publicly at a meeting of the School Committee,” Proietti wrote in the complaint.

“I don’t know what to say about it, quite frankly,” responded Wedegartner. “As the mayor … I feel like it’s my responsibility to correct inaccuracies, whether on the council floor or anywhere else. I was not doing anything other than that when I sent that information to City Council.”

The Open Meeting Law defines deliberation as “an oral or written communication through any medium, including electronic mail, between or among a quorum of a public body on any public business within its jurisdiction,” with the exception of “distribution of a meeting agenda, scheduling information, or distribution of reports or documents that may be discussed at a meeting, provided that no opinion of a member is expressed.”

Wedegartner, who plans to be at the meeting on Tuesday, said she expects to submit her formal response next week, per the guidelines outlined by the law. That response will be shared with the city attorney afterward, she said.

“If I can’t correct inaccuracies or defend the city’ [actions], or the actions I take on behalf of the city, through communication, I think we’re in trouble,” Wedegartner said.

The second alleged violation, Proietti argues, was in an email sent to both city boards on May 16, in which she forwards an email from the city’s attorney, Jesse Belcher-Timme.

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“She initiates deliberation and expresses an opinion on a topic we should only be discussing publicly, as a full body,” Proietti wrote.

The meeting will be held remotely on Tuesday at 6 p.m. Participants can join the Zoom via https://tinyurl.com/SchoolCommittee530. Materials for this meeting, including the complaint, can be found online on the School Committee page of the district’s website.

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.

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