Catoosa County's use of executive session questionable

Staff photo by Erin O. Smith / Catoosa County Chairman Steven Henry, center, speaks during the opening of a work session Monday, July 31, 2017, at the Catoosa County Colonnade in Ringgold, Ga. The Catoosa County Commission, Ringgold City Council and Fort Oglethorpe City Council held an Intergovernmental Work Session to discuss how to divide sales tax revenue, the state of the county jail and more.

A Catoosa County attorney is not sure whether the commissioners were allowed to discuss hiring new school resource officers in private two weeks ago.

Clifton "Skip" Patty said Friday he thought the issue was exempt from Georgia's Open Meetings Act because the elected officials were discussing public safety. But when a reporter asked him about the exemption, Patty said he could not find it in the state's code section.

"We're trying to find an exemption," he said, "but there doesn't appear to be one, surprisingly."

On March 6, the county commissioners met with Schools Superintendent Denia Reese in executive session, away from the public. After the meeting, Commission Chairman Steve Henry said the elected officials agreed to fund five new school resource officers, beginning next school year.