USM regents violated open meetings law, board rules

The state university system's Board of Regents violated Maryland's open meetings law when it met in closed session to discuss the University of Maryland's move to the Big Ten Conference, according to a ruling released Tuesday by a state review panel.

The regents failed to give required public notice and failed to follow proper procedure in closing their Nov. 18 and Nov. 19 meetings, according to the written opinion issued by the three-member Open Meetings Compliance Board. The opinion also says that "at least some part of the Board's discussion should almost certainly have been conducted in open session" and deems inadequate the written summaries of the meetings posted on the university system's website.

Chancellor William E. Kirwan had said in December that the regents failed to follow the law in closing the meetings and said system leaders felt "chastened and regretful for not doing our duties."

The panel's opinion will not affect Maryland's plans to move to the Big Ten in 2014, which were never dependent on approval by the regents. It also carries no penalty, though the regents could face fines of up to $100 each if sued for their actions.

Kirwan has said the regents were merely "confused" as they hastily arranged the meetings. But the review panel rejected the university system's characterization of the violations as "at worst technical."

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