Public Access Opinion 13-007

Taking Final Action at Closed Session Prohibited; Duty to Record Closed Meetings; Summary of Discussion Required in Minutes

Open Meetings Act - OMA
Case: Public Access Opinion 13-007
Date: Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A school board improperly took final action in a closed session and then ratified the improper action several meetings later during open session. During the closed session, six of the seven school board members who were present signed a separation agreement. The PAC found that signing a final separation agreement in closed session constituted a final approval by the board. While the board later took action and ratified the separation agreement in open session, the PAC found that the action taken in open session did not cure the closed session violation. That was because the school board failed to adequately inform the public of the nature of the matter under consideration prior to the vote. The PAC considered the board’s description of the matter under consideration to be vague and general because it called for a “vote to approve the separation agreement with the administrator.” Last, a reference to an administrator’s name, along with a vague reference to a “personnel matter,” violated the board’s duty to provide minutes with a “summary of discussion on all matters proposed, deliberated, or decided, and a record of any votes taken.” In addition, other violations were discussed, e.g., the verbatim recording requirement during closed session was not followed and/or failed during the closed sessions in question.