Election law forced the postponement of Tuesday's Minneapolis school board meeting, leaving Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson and her staff befuddled and scrambling to call off what would have been an illegal session.
Under state law, public meetings are prohibited from 6 to 8 p.m. on the night of a special election that occurs within an area governed by a school district, city council or other public agency.
Tuesday's board meeting, scheduled for that very time, would have violated that law, Secretary of State spokeswoman Pat Turgeon said.
School officials blamed Hennepin County for not alerting them to the possible blunder, and they did not move to cancel the session until the Star Tribune inquired about the legality.
The district didn't cancel the meeting until an hour before it was to begin. Even after it was called off, questions lingered.
"I don't know what happened," said Superintendent Johnson. "I'm trying to understand it myself, frankly."
Residents of south Minneapolis voted in a primary Tuesday for next month's special election to replace DFL Sen. Linda Berglin, who resigned her seat this summer.
The school board had at least one weighty item on its agenda.
Members were to review a policy that would require Johnson to report salary adjustments for all employees, union and non-union, to the school board before they become effective.
They crafted the policy in response to Johnson's decision, without board approval, to award more than $270,000 in retroactive raises to administrators while the district cut more than 100 jobs, including 52 teaching positions.
The superintendent and board drew heavy criticism and scrutiny, including from state House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, who has filed an inquiry into the Minneapolis schools' spending.
Several community members planned to speak out against the proposed policy, calling it an attempt to micromanage the superintendent.
The meeting has been rescheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20. The proposed policy will be on that agenda.
School board chairwoman Jill Davis shrugged her shoulders at the cancellation, leaving for home earlier than expected.
"We fixed it," she said. "But we could've done a better job."
Staff writer Eric Roper contributed to this report.
Corey Mitchell • 612-673-4491