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Ask OSBA - Meeting Procedures 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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What is a ‘360 degree evaluation’ of a chief executive (superintendent or college president) and how is it used? - 5/02/11

Our board meeting agenda includes a consent agenda item called "Approval of Bills." These are bills which have already been paid. What happens if we vote NO on this item, or any of the individual bills in it? - 4/30/10

Can a board member attend the board meeting and vote over the phone? Are absentee ballots permitted? - 1/24/14

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

What is best practice for the procedure for nominating and electing Board officers and appointing new Board members? - 7/27/12

Can the chair call meetings whenever he or she wants, including executive sessions? - 9/16/16

If our board chair resigns as chair yet remains on the board, do we need a resolution to accept that? Or, can the board just accept the resignation and approve a resolution electing another board member as chair? - 4/05/13

What should the board chair do about audience complaints of personnel that should be handled during executive session? - 8/16/13

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

What requirements must a board and district follow in making budget reductions? - 1/07/09

Is a board retreat the same as a board workshop? Do we have to post notice and allow the media to attend? - 2/14/11

Should the board secretary be present at ALL meetings; special and executive? - 5/20/13

What does the phrase “Speaking with one voice” mean when referring to board action? - 2/28/11

If the board is interviewing multiple candidates for one board vacancy, can the board ask the other candidates to remain outside the meeting while individual candidates are being questioned by the board? - 9/25/15

If a budget committee member cannot attend a budget meeting where a final vote on the budget is taking place, can we video tape the meeting, have them review it and have them call in their vote to the chair of the budget committee the next day and have the vote count? - 7/12/13

Does the budget committee have to approve their own minutes? Can the board approve them? Since the budget committee is done after the final budget meeting in which they approve the proposed budget amount, it seems like the board would have to approve at least the final minutes. - 6/18/12

Do you have any suggestions for tiny districts where there is just one person in an area to be reduced? There is no difference between talking about the area to be reduced and the person to be reduced, and the community members find the board discussions as you describe disingenuous. -

Are individuals allowed to campaign on the community college, school district or ESD campus, or in district facilities of the institution for which they are seeking a board seat, or during school events which the public attends? Can they distribute flyers on the institution’s property criticizing the current administration and saying ‘Vote for XYZ for the board’? - 6/03/11

Can a board add an executive session to an agenda after the meeting has started, even if the executive session wasn't included on the original meeting posting? - 6/10/16

May we keep the audio tapes of our meetings as the only official minutes? - 12/01/09

Can board members vote by email? - 5/27/16

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

Are charter school boards subject to public meetings and public records requirements? - 6/03/16

What should be included in a consent agenda and how and why should a consent agenda be used in a board meeting? - 8/22/13

If our board chair resigns as chair yet remains on the board, do we need a resolution to accept that? Or, can the board just accept the resignation and approve a resolution electing another board member as chair? - 4/05/13

At the OSBA convention I jotted down a note that our public meeting notices should have some language about special accommodations and accessibility. Could you please provide some sample language? - 2/12/16

Do committee meetings have to follow public meetings laws if there are less than a quorum of board members on the committee? - 10/03/14

Is it sufficient to list the name of the board member who made a motion, seconded the motion and then state the outcome, passed or failed? Do the actual votes of the board members have to be listed by name? - 1/06/12

Our budget committee completed their work and was dismissed before the new lower revenue forecast from the Governor. Does the board have to adjust the budget to the new revenue estimate before adopting it? - 6/04/10

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

Due to a resignation, we have an open position on our board. We have received two applications and will be interviewing and selecting a replacement member at an upcoming meeting. We now have a four-member board and would like to know what happens if we have two members select one applicant – and the other two members select the other applicant and we end up ‘deadlocked’. How can we reach a final decision to select the new member? - 7/25/13

Our board needs to hold an executive session covering three different topic areas of the executive session statute. Do we post these as three separate agenda items, three separate meetings, or as one agenda item or one meeting? - 2/18/11

Can the board meet in executive session to receive an update on employee performance in general? - 2/28/14

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

Our board is filling several seats on the budget committee. We have more applicants than seats. How do we go about voting to fill those seats? - 3/09/12

Are a citizen's First Amendment rights violated when a board chair insists that complaints about personnel be made in executive session? - 5/01/10

What are the appropriate procedures for hiring a charter administrator? - 11/02/12

July Board Meeting Requirements - 2/28/17

What is the potential liability for both a charter committee member and the charter school for a potentially defamatory comment made by the committee member? - 4/12/13

Is it good practice or required to limit the topics of public comment to agenda items only? - 12/19/13

Can a quorum of the board compel board members to attend meetings? We have a minority of members who might not attend a meeting where they will be faced with criticism. The majority of the board wants the minority to attend. - 3/28/13

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

Our board is interested in opening our board meeting with an invocation or prayer, like the legislature does. Is this OK? - 3/01/10

What is the posting requirement for the first budget committee meeting and how is it different than the notice requirements for regular board meetings? - 2/24/12

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

Our board will be interviewing three candidates to fill one vacant position on our board due to a resignation. While all interviews/conversations must be completed in public, it is difficult to talk about the applicants in public. Do you have any advice for a school board as it launches into this very public process? - 9/20/13

What should the process look like for a public hearing on a proposal such as a construction excise tax? - 9/20/10

We are having a public information session on the budget hosted by the superintendent. The full board will be there and will answer questions. Do we need to post this meeting? - 3/02/12

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

Should public input be at the beginning or end of the meeting, or during each agenda item? What is the best way to schedule this portion of the meeting? - 8/08/14

What are the Board's obligations to allow participation by the public during board meetings? - 5/18/12

What kinds of questions should board members ask in order to provide good fiscal oversight? - 3/30/12

If a quorum of the board attends a public forum does the forum have to be posted as a board meeting? - 6/17/16

Can the board discuss setting district goals while attending OSBA’s convention in Portland in November? - 10/01/15

Does the quorum rule for school boards stated in your December, 2007 response also apply to charter school boards? - 5/31/13

Help! I think I am about to be recalled. What happens and what should I do? - 2/14/11

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

Can we put resolutions on our consent agenda, or do they have to be action items? Do you have to read the entire resolution out loud at a meeting prior to adopting it? - 9/21/12

Can we put resolutions on our consent agenda, or do they have to be action items? - 9/19/14

Can we restrict the use of cell phones and other electronic devices and prohibit note-taking or taping of board meetings? - 4/03/09

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

When should a board use a roll call vote? - 12/07/12

Does a Board have to convene a Special Session and then go into an Executive Session? Or, can they convene for an Executive Session, adjourn and go into a Special Session to vote on a matter? - 6/07/13

When a single issue board member dominates board meetings, what can be done? - 4/25/14

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

Our board wants to hold a summer retreat at a meeting facility outside the boundaries of our district. Is this OK? - 6/01/12

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

Can the administration make transfers between budget functions during the year without seeking board approval? - 5/10/10

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

What is the difference between regular, executive session, special and work session meetings? - 8/22/11

How can the board use sub-committees to improve the way it does business? - 3/08/10

As we prepare to interview applicants for a vacant Board position, can we/do we provide the interview questions to the applicants prior to the interview? Are the other applicants allowed to be in the room (we know it is a public meeting) during the interview process? - 9/13/13

What is the board’s role when budget reductions will include program and staff reductions, including layoffs? Can the board discuss these items in executive session? - 1/26/11