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Discussing executive session


Guest Lucy
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Our organization's board recently met in executive session to discuss a complaint about a club member's actions. As a result, the board voted to remove that club member from a committee. At our upcoming general-membership meeting, we anticipate that someone will move that the club rescind that ruling. If such a motion is made, what rules govern any discussion? Can board members relay witness testimony given in the previous executive session? Thank you!

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Although it may be tough to "enforce", or at least be sure that all the members play fair, the general membership meeting can itself go into executive session (indeed they should as this sort of disciplinary action -- mild though it may be -- is supposed to be dealt with in executive session)  when they set out to discuss the motion to rescind.

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What would be the point of all the general members going into executive session? So that they could not talk about the executive session with other club members who are not present? Or does that make it possible for board members to reveal, if needed, what was discussed in the board's executive session?

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In the order you asked...

1) To assure (to the extent that the membership maintained personal secrecy and their integrity) that the outside world (non-members in general) didn't get any information about the problem.

2)  No, just the opposite.  An absent member who, if present at the meeting, would be included in the private, secret discussions, is entitled to hear about them afterward.

3) Yes.

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12 hours ago, Guest Lucy said:

Our organization's board recently met in executive session to discuss a complaint about a club member's actions. As a result, the board voted to remove that club member from a committee. 

For starters, is this a committee of the board or of the membership? If the latter, do the bylaws authorize the board to remove members from those committees?

12 hours ago, Guest Lucy said:

At our upcoming general-membership meeting, we anticipate that someone will move that the club rescind that ruling. If such a motion is made, what rules govern any discussion? Can board members relay witness testimony given in the previous executive session?

Assuming this is the proper course of action to begin with (which depends on the answers to my questions above), I would first note that it would be desirable for the membership itself to enter executive session. The rules governing the discussion are generally the same as those for any other motion, except that due to the subject matter, discussion of the person who was removed is in order, although this should still be kept within certain limits. Board members may not relay witness testimony or anything else which occurred in the previous executive session unless the board votes to disclose this information to the society or the membership orders the board to do so. If the membership takes this action, I am inclined to think this would require a 2/3 vote, a vote of a majority of the entire membership, or a majority vote with previous notice, since this would have the effect of countermanding the board’s decision to keep these matters within the board. 

3 hours ago, Guest Lucy said:

What would be the point of all the general members going into executive session? So that they could not talk about the executive session with other club members who are not present?

The point would be to prevent members from talking about it with persons who are not members of the club.

3 hours ago, Guest Lucy said:

Or does that make it possible for board members to reveal, if needed, what was discussed in the board's executive session?

 

2 hours ago, jstackpo said:

3) Yes.

I disagree that the membership voting to enter executive session, in and of itself, releases board members of their obligations in regard to an executive session held by the board. It seems to me the board members are still obliged to keep the information secret unless and until the board votes to disclose these matters to the membership or the membership orders it to do so. I agree that if the information is to be disclosed, it is prudent for the membership to enter executive session.

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Thank you both for the additional information - this is very helpful! Josh, the board removed the member from a committee of the general membership, and yes, our bylaws specifically give the board authority to appoint members to and remove them from committees.

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2 hours ago, Guest Lucy said:

Thank you both for the additional information - this is very helpful! Josh, the board removed the member from a committee of the general membership, and yes, our bylaws specifically give the board authority to appoint members to and remove them from committees.

Based on these additional facts, I would add the following...

  • If the bylaws grant the board exclusive authority in this regard, then the membership may not rescind the board’s decision, which makes the other questions moot.
  • If the bylaws do not grant the board exclusive authority in this regard, then the membership may rescind the board’s decision.
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