jlinhrst

Executive Session - Closed voting?

4 posts in this topic

I have a questions concerning the right of a Board of Education to conduct all hiring decisions in Executive Session. At all meetings where a candidate is to be presented for hire, the information is as follows:

  1. The Meeting Agenda does not reflect any mention of New Business involving the hire of an employee. Employees of the district often discover the news of a hiring via word of mouth a few days before a meeting, but never in an official capacity.
  2. The Board often moves to Executive Session early in the meeting. There is no mention of any type of Executive Session agenda before, during, or after the Executive Session is complete. I understand that this is common, as Executive Session typically involves sensitive information not required to be presented in Open Session.
  3. Post-Executive Session, the meeting continues per the agenda to the conclusion of the meeting. Again, there is no open vote or mention of hirings during open session. Additionally, there is no acknowledgement of any votes taken in Executive Session to hire an employee.
  4. Taxpayers/Faculty/Staff remain unaware of the results of the vote for days, sometimes weeks, again hearing about the news of new hires via unofficial word of mouth, or by semi-official distribution of campus wide messages sent from the Superintendent's Office.

The Board states that they strictly enforce Robert's Rules, but I am curious. Does Robert's Rules allow for Executive Session voting on the hirings of employees without any necessary requirement to document the results of the vote in the Open Session or Open Session minutes? Is this at the discretion of the Board to choose the process for voting on new hires? Taxpayers have to literally call or appear in person to get the results of the vote from the Board Secretary as they are not documented in the minutes of any Board Meetings.

I know of other Boards that often enter into Executive Session to discuss the details that lead to the recommendation of an individual for hire, but the actual agenda item, any action, and any votes are always carried out in Open Session.

Any answers or thoughts are greatly appreciated.

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So far as RONR is concerned, there is no reason that hiring decisions cannot take place in executive session.  There are likely to be applicable sunshine laws, however.

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10 hours ago, jlinhrst said:

The Board states that they strictly enforce Robert's Rules, but I am curious. Does Robert's Rules allow for Executive Session voting on the hirings of employees without any necessary requirement to document the results of the vote in the Open Session or Open Session minutes? Is this at the discretion of the Board to choose the process for voting on new hires?

Robert's Rules allows for a board to conduct all of its business in executive session, and to keep all of its minutes solely for the board to review, if the board wishes to do so. This is at the board's discretion.

Any limitations on what the board may or may not do in executive session will be found in the board's own rules or in applicable law, not RONR.

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I agree with my colleagues that nothing in RONR prohibits a board from acting in executive session. However, since this is apparently a public body, I believe its ability to act in executive session will almost certainly be controlled by your state's open meetings or Sunshine laws. Such laws generally prohibit public bodies from making decisions in executive session and require that all votes be taken in an open public session and on the record.

Edited to add:  it is also possible that state laws dealing with Boards of Education might contain applicable provisions.

Edited by Richard Brown
Added last paragraph

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