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Board Meeting Designations

School board meetings fall into the following categories:

  • The annual organizational or reorganizational meeting, which is when the school board elects and appoints its officers and committees for the coming year, and board members take or renew their oaths of office. In most school districts, this meeting must be held each year in July.
  • Regular board meetings, which are the regularly scheduled business meetings held throughout the year.
  • Special board meetings, which are not regularly scheduled and may be called by any member of the board to address a particular item or items.

What are the requirements for holding a school board meeting?

  • There must be a quorum of the board and public notice of the time and place of the meeting.

What constitutes a quorum of a school board?

  • A quorum is a simple majority (more than half) of the total number of board members (Gen. Co Law § 41). A quorum is required for the board to conduct any business. A majority of the entire board, not simply of those present, is required for the board to take any official action.

What is an executive session?

  • An executive session is a portion of a school board meeting that is not open to the public. It can take place only for one or more of the reasons allowed under the Open Meetings Law. Those reasons relate to:
  • Matters that will imperil the public safety if disclosed.
  • Any matter that may disclose the identity of a law enforcement agent or informer.
  • Information relating to current or future investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense that would imperil effective law enforcement if disclosed.
  • Proposed, pending, or current litigation.
  • Collective negotiations pursuant to article 14 of the Civil Service Law.
  • The medical, financial, credit, or employment history of a particular person or corporation, or matters leading to the appointment, employment, promotion, demotion, discipline, suspension, dismissal, or removal of a particular person or corporation.
  • The preparation, grading, or administration of exams.
  • The proposed acquisition, sale, or lease of real property or the proposed acquisition, sale, or exchange of securities, but only when publicity would substantially affect the value of these things. (Pub. Off. Law § 105(a) (h)).

What is a Board retreat?

  • Open meetings law does not apply to board developmental retreats, where no school district business is discussed (NYS Department of State, Committee on Open Government, OML-AO-1973, Sept. 13, 1991). For purposes of this exception, a retreat is when a public body "gathers for the purpose of gaining education, training, to develop or improve team building or communication skills, or to consider interpersonal relations" (NYS Department of State, Committee on Open Government, OML-AO-3709, November 20, 2003). A retreat does not include a long range planning or goal setting sessions as those are matters of public business. 

Board Committees:

  • Meetings of a committee or subcommittee consisting solely of school board members that discusses or conducts public business are subject to the Open Meetings Law (Pub. Off. Law § 102; NYS Department of State, Committee on Open Government, OML-AO-2588, Mar. 28, 1996; OML-AO-2472, Feb. 23, 1995; see Syracuse United Neighbors v. City of Syracuse, 80 A.D.2d 984 (1981)).
  • In addition, according to the Committee on Open Government if a majority of a committee consisting solely of board members meets and is joined at the same table by board members who are not on the committee, to discuss school district business, the committee meeting then becomes a meeting of the board if those present constitute a quorum of the board (NYS Department of State, Committee on Open Government OML-AO-4057, Oct. 19, 2005). That would not be the case if the additional board members attended the committee meeting only as observers (Id.; see also NYS Department of State, Committee on Open Government OML-AO-3329 June 26, 2001).
  • Meetings of advisory committees that do not consist exclusively of school board members, and are created solely to advise and make recommendations to the board are not subject to the Open Meetings Law because they have no authority to take final action (NYS Department of State, Committee on Open Government,
  • An exception would exist if the core membership of the advisory group consists of board members. In such a case, the additional non board members who sit on the committee do not change the essential character of the entity- which is that of a public body subject to the Open Meetings Law. (NYS Department of State, Committee on Open Government, OML-AO- 4158, Mar. 15, 2006).