Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Law school cancels meeting ; Court orders panel to open discussion on possible move

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Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Law school cancels meeting ; Court orders panel to open discussion on possible move

Of Our Carlisle Bureau

A Saturday meeting that could have decided the future location of The Dickinson School of Law has been canceled, school officials said yesterday. The cancellation came one day after Cumberland County Judge Edward E. Guido ordered the board of governors to open its meetings to the media and public.

Guido ruled that the board's policy of closing the meeting to the public violates the state open records law.

The Patriot-News and The Sentinel of Carlisle had sued the board to open its meetings to the media and the public.

The law school and board of governors yesterday appealed the ruling in Commonwealth Court.

Board of governors chairman LeRoy Zimmerman said that the meeting had to be canceled due to the fact that there was not enough time to properly publicize it, which would be required under the state Sunshine Act.

No new meeting date has been set, he said.

Board committees had hoped to discuss results of a monthlong study of school expansion options.

Those options included a plan for moving the law school to State College to be near its parent institution, Penn State University.

A local expansion at the existing South College Street campus or elsewhere in the Carlisle area was also studied.

Law School Dean Philip McConnaughay in November asked the board to consider moving the school to State College.

The board said a decision could be made by May.

Despite the board's claim that the meetings could be held behind closed doors, Zimmerman said that he expected the board to conduct at least some of its deliberations in public.

"The board has never been asked to express an opinion as to whether to open its meetings to the public," said G. Thomas Miller, a board member.

"With all the public support we have for the school, I don't see why our deliberations have to be kept secret," he said.

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