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Ask OSBA - Communication Questions

OSBA staff answers some common (and not so common) questions about board governance, board members' roles and responsibilities, good practices, running board meetings and board conflict. Don't see the answer to your question? Ask OSBA!

Dear members:

Your OSBA Team is dedicated to assisting you by responding to all of your questions. Additionally, we are committed to providing you with the best possible information, tools, and practices in a timely manner. There are times when we must research, or consult with other OSBA staff members to provide an answer to your questions. In these circumstances, we ask for your patience as the normal response time could potentially be delayed. Please expect an initial response, by phone or email, within 24-48 hours of submitting your question, and be aware that additional follow-up could take more time. If your question is time sensitive, please be sure to specify your deadlines in your initial request.

Thank you, we look forward to hearing from you!

Legal Disclaimer: The information contained on this site should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding your particular situation, please seek the advice of OSBA’s legal services or independent counsel.


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Can the board add an action item to the agenda at the time of the meeting if the topic was not listed on the original meeting posting notice? - 4/16/10

Can we appoint to our budget committee a person who works part-time for the district, making less than $100 a month? - 2/08/13

Our superintendent has suggested the board have lunch together at an OSBA conference. I take it this would be illegal if we have a quorum or more board members present? - 10/31/13

Is it legal for the superintendent to talk with a board member in closed-door sessions? The board member discusses the issue with all of the other members before the meeting. - 12/06/13

Which executive sessions can the press be barred from attending? - 10/04/10

When and how can board members use e-mail to communicate with each other? Can they discuss and gain consensus on an item by e-mail? - 4/13/12

Are boards and their committees required to take minutes at all of their meetings and what should the minutes include? - 10/19/12

For a board appointed committee (with no board member quorum participating) is the board executive assistant required to take the minutes or is someone designated from the committee during the initial meeting allowed to do so? - 8/05/16

Is it possible to conduct a public meeting where all board members are in attendance via electronic device (e.g. computer, phone etc.)? - 2/01/13

One of our board members speaks to the public and press against the positions taken by the board at our meetings. This board member has also leaked information from executive session meetings. Is there anything the rest of the board can do about this situation? - 10/10/14

Contact information for our school board members is not posted on the district’s website. I read in an “Ask Betsy” response that the public can request school board members personal contact information. So, can a public school not publish contact information and only provide such information upon request? - 12/14/12

Do you have some suggestions about what board members can and can’t say, and should and should not do during collective bargaining? - 11/07/14

Can all of our board members participate in a meeting of our political action committee to promote a bond campaign? If so, do we need to post it as a public meeting? - 4/25/12

A parent in our district has become irrational and belligerent with our staff, it has become necessary for us to restrict her presence on district property. The superintendent wants to send her a no trespass letter which the board would like to approve prior to sending. Should this be handled in executive session or can we discuss the letter, but not its contents, in open session? - 4/20/12

Our board has just passed a resolution supporting a ballot measure. What are the restrictions on the district’s involvement in reporting that action, including information in print materials such as the district newsletter, and advocacy by staff members? - 8/30/13

Does the superintendent's formal evaluation report have to be released if requested by any member of the public? - 8/01/14

What is the protocol for canceling a meeting? - 1/04/13

Our board adopts its meeting calendar in July every year. If later in the year a request is made to cancel a meeting, does the board have to act to cancel the meeting, or can we just simply cancel it without board action? If we cancel a published meeting, do we need to give a 24-hour notice? - 10/22/15

When and how can board members use email to communicate with each other? Can they discuss and gain consensus on an item by email? - 8/30/11

Do "blogs" or other social media postings violate public meetings laws? - 10/24/14

Is there a recommended statement we should put at the end of all board member emails to make it clear that board members cannot hold a discussion by email without possibly violating the public meeting laws? - 7/13/10

A complaint has been filed against a staff member which has progressed through the complaint procedure and has been appealed to the school board. The staff member who the complaint is against has requested the complaint be heard by the Board in public session. We anticipate both sides of the issue may have supporters in attendance. After the board reviews the complaint and the superintendent’s response, may we go into executive session to deliberate or do we have to do all of that in public session as well? - 9/27/13

What guidelines apply to gifts given by parents or students to teachers, or by staff members and employees and board members to each other? - 12/08/09

When a board member gets a written or electronic note about a board issue, how should it be shared with the full board? - 10/31/14

If an individual board member wants information from the district about a particular topic, how do they go about requesting and receiving the information? - 1/17/12

Sometimes during a meeting our board talks on and on without anyone making a motion. Is it appropriate for the chair to ask the board if there is a motion? - 10/07/11

When the board receives general correspondence containing confidential student information how do we file and maintain these records? - 12/09/11

Do we have to put a notice of our board meetings in the newspaper? Do we have to adopt a newspaper of record? - 1/22/13

Do we have to take minutes at a board retreat and if so do we have to have them approved at the board meeting? - 7/22/16

Must executive session minutes be separate from regular session minutes, or can they be contained in the body of the regular session minutes? - 3/08/13

Although the charter school board meeting dates are posted on the school calendar and anyone can request a packet of materials that will be used at the school board meeting, do the agenda and the minutes need to actually be posted where the public can read them? - 3/01/13

If a person does not speak at or attend a Board meeting, but wants their email or written statement in the record as public comment, can/should we do that? - 1/10/13

Are we required to take public input at every meeting and if so what restrictions can we put on the public input? - 10/12/12

How do we handle a public meetings request for a full board packet before the board meeting? - 6/27/11

Our district received a request for contact information for each of our board members. What information do we have to release? Should we first ask the requestor why they want the information? - 9/09/11

Our district received a request for contact information for each of our board members. What information do we have to release? Should we first ask the requestor why they want the information? - 9/12/11

Are public schools required by state or federal law to display an American flag or have students say the Pledge of Allegiance? - 2/22/13

We need to change an upcoming Board meeting date, due to a conflicting event. I THINK we need to present the revised Board meeting schedule to the Board as an action item for approval, and then change the date on our website. Am I correct? - 1/22/16

Our board wants to prepare a response to an article in the newspaper. We would like to have our chair send a draft by e-mail, with each of us responding until we get it in a form we can agree on. Is this OK? - 6/08/12

What rules have to be followed for retaining board member emails regarding school district business? - 12/18/15

What rules have to be followed for retaining board member emails and text messages regarding school district business? - 10/17/14

Are the salaries and benefits of teachers, principals and the superintendent public records which are available to the general public? What about the individual’s evaluations? - 7/08/11

Our superintendent needs to update board members about staff issues that may turn into grievances. Under what statute can that executive session be held? - 12/28/12

My understanding is that if the board appoints a committee to do a certain task, meetings of that committee must follow public meeting laws. In particular, notices of the committee meeting(s) must be posted just like we do for our school board meetings. If, for example, a 7-member board appointed 3 of its members to review a process and then return to the full board with its findings and recommendations, does the meeting of those 3 members need to be posted? - 11/20/15

Can a superintendent endorse a board candidate running for their board? If they can't endorse, can they give a quote about the candidate? - 5/10/13

If a board member is talking one-on-one with an individual after a public listening session or board meeting and the individual audio tapes the conversation without the board member being aware of it, can the district or board member take action against the person doing the taping? - 6/13/11

How long do we need to keep the audio tapes of our meetings once they have been transcribed to a written format? - 12/24/15

Our board is planning to meet with another school district board to discuss mutual concerns. Are there any special provisions which need to be followed? - 3/22/13