Robert A. Bertsche Quoted in Sun Chronicle About Possible Meeting Law Violation

BY MICHAEL GELBWASSER

SUN CHRONICLE STAFF

FOXBORO — Foxboro School Committee members violated at least the spirit of the state’s open meeting law by refusing to identify the school superintendent finalist to a reporter earlier this week, a Boston media lawyer said Thursday.

A screening committee voted to recommend the board appoint Christopher Martes as superintendent, which school officials did Thursday night.

However, school board Chairwoman Martha Slattery, who co-chaired the screening committee, refused to release Martes’ name to a Sun Chronicle reporter on Wednesday.

The reporter later contacted Martes, who confirmed his candidacy.

Media lawyer Rob Bertsche questioned Slattery’s decision to withhold Martes’ name.

“If the school committee was not disclosing that information to the public once the decision had been made, that certainly flies against the spirit of the open meeting law, whether or not it’s technically a violation,” said Bertsche, who is general counsel for the New England Press Association.

Slattery said the search committee voted in closed session on March 28 to recommend Martes’ appointment.

Bertsche questioned that action, too.

The screening could be done behind closed doors “if what they were doing was giving a preliminary screening to these applicants,” said Bertsche, a partner in the firm of Prince Lobel Tye.