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Prattville Library board intends to settle fired director’s lawsuit

The board has denied violating the Open Meetings Act in its meeting to terminate Foster’s employment.

Andrew Foster, former director of the Autauga-Prattville Public Library, is demanding reinstatement in a set of certified letters released Friday.
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The Autauga-Prattville Public Library board of trustees is seeking a settlement agreement with the director it fired in March.

The board called a special meeting last week to discuss the litigation and authorized Vice Chair Rachel Daniels to negotiate the settlement agreement, according to the Elmore-Autauga News.

After spending four minutes in executive session, the board reconvened and Chair Ray Boles gave the floor to Bryan Taylor, the attorney hired by the board to handle this lawsuit due to a “conflict of interest” with the board’s standby attorney Laura Clark.

“I just wanted to make sure everybody understood that we were in executive session for me to relay some discussions I’ve had with Mr. Foster’s counsel about the prospects for settlement,” Taylor said. “I’ve conveyed some ideas about that to each of you (on the Board) as your lawyer subject to client privilege. Many of you asked me questions, but there was no deliberation on this matter.”

The board terminated Foster’s employment on March 14, and the following week Foster demanded to be reinstated and have a name-clearing hearing, alleging numerous violations of the Open Meetings Act during the meeting in which he was fired. When the board failed to respond to his demands, he proceeded with litigation against the board.

On April 19, the board answered the complaint, categorically denying all OMA violations charged against them.

However, one of the allegations is open to very little interpretation: When the board entered executive session to terminate Foster’s employment, the motion was made without giving a reason for the executive session. The Alabama Open Meetings Act explicitly states “a majority of members of the governmental body must adopt, by recorded vote, a motion calling for the executive session and setting forth the purpose of the executive session.”

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The numerous other violations charged include the likelihood of the board conducting serial meetings or illegal meetings due to their lack of discussion, discussing Foster’s job performance unlawfully in an executive session and unlawfully deliberating in executive session.

The library board has two meetings this week. The finance committee of the board will discuss the 2025 budget at the Prattville library at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday. On Thursday, the full board will meet for the first time since it enacted new policies that have now been challenged by patrons in a federal lawsuit. The meeting will be held at 10 a.m. at the library.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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