The Board of Higher Education is scheduled to meet today to discuss claims by the board's former attorney that chancellor Hamid Shirvani directed staff members to avoid state open meetings laws.
These are serious allegations brought about by Pat Seaworth, who was a longtime attorney with the North Dakota University System before he says he was forced to resign after clashing with Shirvani. We hope Seaworth isn't throwing around allegations loosely, and that he has evidence to support his claims.
A board spokesewoman said the chancellor and the board have always "strived to operate in full compliance with the law and will continue to do so."
The board's new attorney will be looking into the claims, which is a bit concerning simply because that position reports to the chancellor, so there's a natural conflict of interest. The investigation should be done by an outside interest, perhaps the attorney general's office.
We understand that Seaworth could be considered something of a disgruntled former employee, and that his allegations could eminate from the abrupt ending to his 20 years of work with the university system. Still, any claims of state open meeting violations must be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated. If it's proven that Shirvani did direct staff to disobey open meeting laws, he should be fired immediately. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's see what an investigation determines.