State of Rhode Island



150 South Main Street- Providence, Rl 02903

(401) 274-4400


Peter F. Neronha


Attorney General




March 3, 2023

OM 23-03


Ms. Nicole Solas



Andrew Henneous, Esquire

Legal Counsel, South Kingstown School Committee



Re: Solas v. South Kingstown School Committee


Dear Ms. Solas and Attorney Henneous:


We have completed an investigation into the Open Meetings Act (“OMA”) Complaint filed by Ms. Nicole Solas against the South Kingstown School Committee (“Committee”). For the reasons set forth herein, we find that the Committee violated the OMA, but injunctive relief is unnecessary and there is insufficient evidence to support a finding of a willful or knowing violation.


Background and Arguments


The Complainant alleges that the Committee did not timely file meeting minutes for the following meetings in 2022: July 27, August 9, and August 23.   


Attorney Andrew Henneous submitted a substantive response on behalf of the Committee conceding that the Committee failed to timely file minutes with the Secretary of State for the July 27, August 9 and August 23 meetings. The Committee states that the August 9 and August 23 meeting minutes were posted on the Secretary of State’s website as of October 11, 2022 and the July 27 meeting minutes were posted on October 28, 2022. The Committee maintains that the belated filings were caused by “significant turnover in the last six (6) months” including the resignations of the two (2) employees primarily responsible for filing minutes, the Executive Assistant to the Superintendent and the Assistant Superintendent. The Committee states that a new Executive Assistant to the Superintendent was appointed on September 12, 2022 and an additional Executive Assistant to the Superintendent was appointed on October 17, 2022 and “is in the process of being trained with respect to the Committee’s obligations related to the Open Meetings Act.”


Based upon this Office’s review of the Committee’s page on the Secretary of State website, the August 9 and August 23 minutes were posted on October 11 and the July 7 minutes were posted on October 28.  


The Complainant did not submit a rebuttal.


Applicable Law and Findings


When we examine an OMA complaint, our authority is to determine whether a violation of the OMA has occurred. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-8. In doing so, we must begin with the plain language of the OMA and relevant caselaw interpreting this statute.


The OMA provides that:


“All public bodies shall keep official and/or approved minutes of all meetings of the body and shall file a copy of the minutes of all open meetings with the secretary of state for inspection by the public within thirty-five days of the meeting[.]” R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-7(d) (emphasis added).


There is no dispute that the Committee failed to timely file its meeting minutes for its July 27, August 9 and August 23 meetings, as required by the OMA. Accordingly, the Committee violated the OMA with respect to those meetings.




The OMA provides that the Office of the Attorney General may institute an action in Superior Court for violations of the OMA. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-8(a), (e). The Superior Court may issue injunctive relief and declare null and void any actions of the public body found to be in violation of the OMA. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-8(d). Additionally, the Superior Court may impose fines of up to $5,000 against a public body found to have committed a willful or knowing violation of the OMA. Id.


Injunctive relief is not appropriate here because the pertinent meeting minutes have already been posted on the Secretary of State’s website.


We next turn to consider whether the Committee’s violations were willful or knowing. We are concerned that the Committee was recently found to have committed similar violations. In Solas v. South Kingstown School Committee, et al., OM 22-28, this Office found that the Committee violated the OMA by failing to timely post minutes for two of its meetings occurring in 2021.  As recounted in this Office’s finding, the Committee’s violation was caused by a misunderstanding that it did not need to post minutes for those two meetings as they were joint meetings with the Town Council with School Committee participation.


Although we are concerned by this history of similar violations, we also note that the circumstances related to the violations have been different. In this case, the Committee has provided evidence that staffing challenges related to the resignations of the Executive Assistant to the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent resulted in new staff being brought in to assist and that a miscommunication among staff resulted in the violation. The Committee also acknowledged its violation and promptly rectified it after receiving this Complaint. It is fair to once again to consider whether this matter could have been rectified without a complaint to this Office. Additionally, the Committee represented that it instituted new measures to guard against similar future violations by ensuring all new staff received training on its OMA obligations.


Based on the totality of the circumstances, we do not find this violation to be willful or knowing. This finding serves as notice that the conduct discussed herein violates the OMA and may serve as evidence of a willful or a knowing violation in any similar future situation.


Although the Office of the Attorney General will not file suit in this matter, please be advised that nothing within the OMA prohibits an individual from instituting an action for injunctive or declaratory relief in Superior Court. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-8(c).  The OMA allows the Complainant to file a complaint within ninety (90) days from the date of the Attorney General’s closing of the complaint or within one hundred eighty (180) days of the alleged violation, whichever occurs later. See id. Please be advised that we are closing this Complaint as of the date of this letter.


We thank you for your interest in keeping government open and accountable to the public.







By: Kayla E. O’Rourke

Kayla E. O’Rourke, Esquire


/s/ Adam D. Roach

Adam D. Roach, Special Assistant Attorney General




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