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From: Shaffer, Barry
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 9:37 AM
Subject: FW: Caucus information

To:  ABE Managers

I have the “final answer” from our MDE legislative office (see Claire Noble’s email below). 

The question was whether or not ABE programs may hold evening classes (after 6 pm) on March 4, 2008 or on February 5, 2008.  The March 4th date is in Minnesota law as the official caucus night and according to that law, no classes can be held.  But the two major Minnesota parties are actually holding their caucuses on the evening of February 5th, not March 4th.

The final answer, after running this issue up the chain of command, is that programs should not hold classes on the evening of March 4th because ‘the law is the law’, and it is recommended that programs also do not hold classes on the actual caucus night, February 5th.  However, Claire Noble suggests that you check with your fiscal host school district to see what their policy and advice will be. 

As I mentioned to Claire, there is little understanding among higher up bureaucrats, I believe, that closing ABE classes costs an ABE program future contact hour revenue plus the loss of student time on task and attendance continuity.  Also, I suspect that state bureaucrats at the upper levels find it difficult to issue interpretations that counter a standing law even if the law is meaningless for the new circumstance.  Common sense once again does not prevail in a world of legal issues and bureaucracies.

Barry

Barry Shaffer
MN State Director of Adult Education
Minnesota Department of Education
(651) 582-8442
Barry.shaffer@state.mn.us

 

-----Original Message-----
From: Noble, Claire
Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2007 5:08 PM
To: Shaffer, Barry
Cc: 'chas.anderson@state.mn.us'
Subject: Caucus information

Well, Barry, I stand corrected.  After checking with a couple of different sources, all of whom agree that the application of the statute is inconsistent with its intent, the consensus seems to be consistent with what your people in the field have been told. The AG's office does not have any written advice on this topic, but the recommendation from the Secretary of State's office is that the March 4 date published in statute is the date that must be followed for closure of classes.   

Schools are strongly encouraged to close on the actual February 5 caucus date to encourage civic engagement, but there is no enforcement provided for this in statute.

Ultimately, I would recommend that each program consult with their own counsel for advice, but our position is that the March 4 date must be followed for closures, despite the fact that it doesn't make a lot of sense either practically or by the reading of the statute.

Thanks,
Claire
 

ELECTION DAY & CAUCUS RULING – CAN ABE CLASSES BE HELD?

Question 1:  Can Adult Basic Education classes by held on an election day (includes primary elections and special elections)?

Answer:   There are two correct answers to this question…

    - YES, if they are regularly scheduled classes. 

    - NO, if they are one-time only ABE events.  See  Subd. 3 of the state law below.  Adult Basic Education programs fall under the "public school" section of the law due to our affiliation with Community Education and the Fund 04 revenue source.

_________________________________________

 

Minnesota Statutes 1999, Table of Chapters

Table of contents for Chapter 204C

     204C.03 Public meetings prohibited on election day.

    Subdivision 1.    School districts; counties;  municipalities.  No school board, county board of  commissioners, city council, or town board of supervisors shall conduct a meeting between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on the day  that an election is held within the boundaries of the school  district, county, city or town.   

    Subd. 2.    State colleges and universities.  Except for  regularly scheduled classes, no Minnesota state college or university shall schedule an event between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on the day that an election is held in any political  subdivision in which the university or college is located.   

    Subd. 3.    Public elementary and secondary schools.   Except for regularly scheduled classes, a public elementary or  secondary school may not schedule a school sponsored event  between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on the day that a regularly  scheduled election is held in any political subdivision in which  the school is located.  

    Subd. 4.    State government.  No state agency, board,  commission, department, or committee shall conduct a public  meeting on the day of the state primary or general election.      HIST: 1981 c 29 art 5 s 3; 1983 c 303 s 12; 1991 c 221 s 2;

 1996 c 395 s 10  

Copyright 1999 by the Office of Revisor of Statutes, State of Minnesota

 

Question 2:  Can Adult Basic Education classes by held on a caucus day

Answer:  There are two correct answers to this question…

    - YES:  If those classes end prior to 6:00 pm on caucus night.

    - NO:  M.S. 202A.19 prohibits school-sponsored events including regular classes from being held after 6:00 pm on caucus night.  See interpretation from Minnesota Department of Education Governmental Liaison below:

 

-----Original Message-----
From: Sullivan, Barry
Sent: Wednesday, February 11, 2004 9:13 AM
To: Shaffer, Barry
Cc: Marcus, Greg
Subject: RE: caucus night rule

The statute, 202A.19, subd. 5, specifies that “no public elementary or secondary school may hold a school sponsored event after 6:00 p.m. on the day of a major political party precinct caucus.”    Just to make sure this says what it appears to say, I called the elections division in the Secretary of State’s Office (651-215-1440) and they confirmed that this means all events, including classes of any kind, are prohibited after 6:00 p.m.

Barry Sullivan

 

202A.19 CAUCUS, SCHOOL SCHEDULE PREEMPTION, EXCUSAL FROM
EMPLOYMENT TO ATTEND.
    Subdivision 1. Limits on local government meetings. No special taxing district governing
body, school board, county board of commissioners, township board, or city council may conduct
a meeting after 6:00 p.m. on the day of a major political party precinct caucus. As used in this
subdivision, "special taxing district" has the meaning given in section 275.066.
    Subd. 2. Absence from work. Every employee who is entitled to attend a major political
party precinct caucus is entitled, after giving the employer at least ten days' written notice, to be
absent from work for the purpose of attending the caucus during the time for which the caucus is
scheduled without penalty or deduction from salary or wages on account of the absence other than
a deduction in salary for the time of absence from employment.
    Subd. 3. Limits on college or university meetings. The University of Minnesota may not
schedule an event which will take place after 6:00 p.m. on the day of a major political party
precinct caucus unless permission to do so has been received from the Board of Regents. No
Minnesota state college or university may schedule an event which will take place after 6:00 p.m.
on the day of a major political party precinct caucus unless permission to do so has been received
from the Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.
    Subd. 4. Use of public school buildings. No school official may deny the use of a public
school building for the holding of a major political party precinct caucus if the school office has
received a written request for the use of the school building 30 days or more prior to the date of
the caucus.
    Subd. 5. Limits on public school events. No public elementary or secondary school may
hold a school sponsored event after 6:00 p.m. on the day of a major political party precinct caucus.
    Subd. 6. Limits on state public meetings. No state agency, board, commission, department,
or committee shall conduct a public meeting after 6:00 p.m. on the day of a major political
party precinct caucus.