Jump to content
The Official RONR Q & A Forums
JohnGalt

Executive session protocol

Recommended Posts

It appears that my organization has had some past issues with executive sessions. Please correct me if I am incorrect with my understanding on their use and application:

1. Prior to going into executive session, a motion to go into executive session must pass by majority with a specific reason included. For example, "I move that we go in executive session to discuss the employment, dismissal, or lawsuit regarding a specific member or employee."

2. Once executive session ends, and there is return to open session, the board MAY chose to vote on a decision as a result of this discussion. That vote will still not include the identity of party on whom the vote was taken.

3. Executive session discussion is to remain private only to those attending and may not be recorded or distributed.

It appears that executive session may have been abused over a period of many years. Does that abuse of power constitute revised acceptable use based on past practice?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It appears that my organization has had some past issues with executive sessions. Please correct me if I am incorrect with my understanding on their use and application:

1. Prior to going into executive session, a motion to go into executive session must pass by majority with a specific reason included. For example, "I move that we go in executive session to discuss the employment, dismissal, or lawsuit regarding a specific member or employee."

2. Once executive session ends, and there is return to open session, the board MAY chose to vote on a decision as a result of this discussion. That vote will still not include the identity of party on whom the vote was taken.

3. Executive session discussion is to remain private only to those attending and may not be recorded or distributed.

It appears that executive session may have been abused over a period of many years. Does that abuse of power constitute revised acceptable use based on past practice?

1) Nope. Any reason is fine (or for no reason) and it takes a majority vote if unanimous consent is not possible.

2) You have to vote on a properly worded motion both in and out of Executive Session. Give us an example and we'll tell you if it's proper.

3) Close. It must remain private, it can be recorded if the assembly doesn't object to it (don't forget to take minutes too), and the minutes can be distributed to those entitled to attend, or the secrecy can be lifted if you so choose.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1) Nope. Any reason is fine (or for no reason) and it takes a majority vote if unanimous consent is not possible.

2) You have to vote on a properly worded motion both in and out of Executive Session. Give us an example and we'll tell you if it's proper.

3) Close. It must remain private, it can be recorded if the assembly doesn't object to it (don't forget to take minutes too), and the minutes can be distributed to those entitled to attend, or the secrecy can be lifted if you so choose.

Yup, and, about voting on a motion in executive session, see FAQ #17 at the Robert's Rules of Order website, www.robertsrules.com.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yup, and, about voting on a motion in executive session, see FAQ #17 at the Robert's Rules of Order website, www.robertsrules.com.

Yeah, my concern and reason for asking for a follow-up was.......they can't come out of executive session and proceed to vote on a motion to "terminate _____" and not say who they're firing..

IMO, if there's any confidentiality issue, they can vote on the matter in executive session, and report in open session that "John Doe's contract was terminated". No other details need disclosed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

3) Close. It must remain private, it can be recorded if the assembly doesn't object to it (don't forget to take minutes too), and the minutes can be distributed to those entitled to attend, or the secrecy can be lifted if you so choose.

Keep in mind that minutes taken while in executive session can only be read and acted upon while in executive session, unless the only thing recorded in those minutes is not secret, or secrecy has been lifted. This would preclude distribution of minutes of the executive session in the default situation. RONR (10th ed.), p. 93, l. 16-25.

Also, JohnGalt, keep in mind that the responses you will find here are based on the rules in RONR. Many organizations have extra requirements for executive session. For example, stating a purpose for the executive session before going in and requiring a vote after leaving executive session. These rules are beyond what RONR prescribes, so you will need to look to your own rules or bylaws for the final answer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It appears that executive session may have been abused over a period of many years. Does that abuse of power constitute revised acceptable use based on past practice?

No. A custom carries no weight when in coflict with the parliamentary authority. See RONR (10th ed.), p. 17, l. 7-14.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It appears that my organization has had some past issues with executive sessions.

See RONR(10th ed.), p. 92-93 for details on executive session.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

... with a specific reason included.

That is a provision of most states' Sunshine Laws (and probably many organizations' bylaws), but is not a general provision of RONR. Are you a member of a public body, or an ordinary society?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is a provision of most states' Sunshine Laws (and probably many organizations' bylaws), but is not a general provision of RONR. Are you a member of a public body, or an ordinary society?

I am a member of a national club and have been nominated for office. The club has a history over the past few years of going in executive session more than once at nearly every monthly meeting. What is troubling to many of the members is that there is no disclosure as to the reason they go in exec session, and many members complain that if a decision is announced afterward it provides no reason for the decision. I have explained that that IS the parliamentary process, but they seem to want to know the "dirty details". At the same time, if any charges are filed and sustained in executive session, the identity of the member who is being removed or suspended is not revealed. None of these matters are handled in CBL for the organization, and the frequency of exec sessions as well as their length is raising many questions related to trust.

This practice is contrary to my experience with executive sessions on a school board, for example, where a blanket reason is always given like the review or dismissal of an employee, student, bargaining agreement, or legal action). In the latter scenario, if an employee is to be terminated his name will likely be made at the next board meeting with the remarks that the board will not be renewing his contract.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am a member of a national club and have been nominated for office. The club has a history over the past few years of going in executive session more than once at nearly every monthly meeting. What is troubling to many of the members is that there is no disclosure as to the reason they go in exec session, and many members complain that if a decision is announced afterward it provides no reason for the decision. I have explained that that IS the parliamentary process, but they seem to want to know the "dirty details". At the same time, if any charges are filed and sustained in executive session, the identity of the member who is being removed or suspended is not revealed. None of these matters are handled in CBL for the organization, and the frequency of exec sessions as well as their length is raising many questions related to trust.

This practice is contrary to my experience with executive sessions on a school board, for example, where a blanket reason is always given like the review or dismissal of an employee, student, bargaining agreement, or legal action). In the latter scenario, if an employee is to be terminated his name will likely be made at the next board meeting with the remarks that the board will not be renewing his contract.

Because school boards are public bodies spending public dollars, they fall under the state Sunshine Laws, which severely restrict the reasons why the board may go into executive session, require that those reasons be stated in the public motion to go into executive session, and provide that while in exec, no business falling outside those stated reasons is in order. But those Open Public Meetings laws do not apply to private clubs.

Your experience on the school board will serve you well in many ways, but there are differences when, as in this instance, a society operates solely under its own bylaws and RONR.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Candy Coulter

Can a board chairman call an executive session out of the blue. In other words, come into my office and say, "we are having an executive session meeting Monday.? (this question is regarding a public water dept.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can a board chairman call an executive session out of the blue. In other words, come into my office and say, "we are having an executive session meeting Monday.? (this question is regarding a public water dept.)

Is this a meeting of a deliberative assembly? I'm not sure by what you're describing, that RONR would apply. However if it does, unless some other customized rule interferes, according to RONR, a motion to enter executive session is a motion of privilege; that is, a member could request the assembly enter executive session, but if another member objects, the chair should put the question to a vote, at the meeting. Nonetheless, you've mentioned this is a public water department, and there are often other rules outside of RONR which apply when dealing with such entities. Next time, please post a new question. The original post is from 2010

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...