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Forum staff reports, Published June 04 2013

Forum asks AG for opinion on executive session

BISMARCK – The Forum on Tuesday asked the North Dakota Attorney General’s Office to issue an advisory opinion on whether the executive session the state Board of Higher Education held prior to approving a buyout of the contract of Chancellor Hamid Shirvani was lawful under the state’s open meeting laws.

In holding a portion of its Monday meeting in private, the board cited an exemption to the state’s open meeting laws allowing a closed-door meeting to “discuss negotiating strategy or provide negotiating instructions to its attorney or other negotiator regarding litigation, adversarial administrative proceedings, or contracts, which are currently being negotiated or for which negotiation is reasonably likely to occur in the immediate future.”

It typically takes months after an advisory opinion is requested before the attorney general’s office issues the opinion.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem issued two opinions earlier this year saying the board had met illegally in two dinner meetings and in serial email exchanges.