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Public Access Opinion 16-014

Right to record open meetings

Administrator Contracts
Case: Public Access Opinion 16-014
Date: Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Rules that require advance notice to the public body before recording a meeting may violate OMA. Here, a public school district prohibited an individual from recording its September 20, 2016 board meeting because the individual only provided notice of his request to record 10 minutes before the meeting began, and the school district’s practice was to require 24-hours’ advance notice. In addition, this particular meeting took place in a school learning resource center, where students were present, and the school district asserted that 10 minutes’ advance notice did not allow sufficient time to arrange for the individual to record the meeting from a location that would prevent student images from appearing in it. Citing to PAC Opinion No. 12-010 (June 5, 2012), the PAC affirmed that any rule requiring advance notice of recording a meeting has a steep burden to overcome in order to demonstrate it is reasonable. Here, the PAC found that the school district had not met its burden of demonstrating that advance notice of recording was reasonable. The PAC further found that if the locations of board meetings raised student privacy concerns then the school district is obligated to select a location for meetings where the right to record is not curtailed or to otherwise eliminate the concern (such as by prohibiting students from accessing the learning resource center during meetings).

This opinion is binding only to the parties involved and may be appealed pursuant to State law.