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Teacher says Big Ten decision violated open meeting laws

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A former Baltimore County teacher filed a complaint with a state board Monday, alleging that the University System of Maryland Board of Regents violated the state open meetings law when it voted in closed session on the University of Maryland's move to the Big Ten athletic conference.

"I think it's a disgrace that no one has complained about this," said Ralph Jaffe, who taught political science in the county public schools and has run for U.S. Senate and governor in recent years.

Jaffe, who lives in Pikesville, sent a letter to the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board on Monday saying that the Board of Regents illegally met last week to approve the university's move, which ended six decades of membership in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"I am therefore asking you to enforce the aforementioned act and require the University of Maryland Board of Regents to conduct the vote again in open session," Jaffe wrote.

Open-government advocates, including the Student Press Law Center, raised similar criticisms last week, arguing that the public should have had more input on the issue.

A university system spokesman said the Board of Regents and Chancellor William E. Kirwan did not have an additional comment beyond a statement released last week. Both the board president and Kirwan contend that the board's action in closed session was proper.

According to Kirwan, Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has said that the Board of Regents did not violate open meeting laws.

A spokesman for Gansler did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

Jaffe, a Democrat, ran for U.S. Senate this year and governor in 2010, campaigning on a transparency platform and eschewing campaign donations.

julie.scharper@baltsun.com

twitter.com/juliemore

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