The Public Meetings Law applies to all meetings of a quorum of a governing body for which a quorum is required in order to make a decision or to deliberate toward a decision on any matter. Even if a meeting is for the sole purpose of gathering information to serve as the basis for a subsequent decision or recommendation by the governing body, the meetings law will apply. This requirement serves the policy expressed at ORS 192.620 that an informed public must be aware not only of the decisions of governing bodies but also of “the information upon which such decisions were made.”
Since the GPSD7 Board consists of seven members, a "quorum" means four members. While it is possible for the board to hold a meeting with only four members present, in order for any motion to pass, they must vote unanimously. A majority vote (4) means a majority of the entire board and not just of those present. For example, if all 7 members are present and 4 members vote yes and 3 members vote no, a motion passes. If only 5 members are present and 3 vote yes and 2 vote no, the motion fails because it failed to receive a majority of the full board. All regular, special and emergency meetings of the Board will be open to the public except as provided by law. Access to and the ability to attend all meetings (excluding executive sessions) by telephone, video or other electronic or virtual means will be made available when reasonably possible.
THREE TYPES OF MEETINGS
Regular—A regular meeting is generally one that is included on the official school year board calendar that is approved at the annual organizational meeting (typically in July). For GPSD7, these are held on the 2nd Tuesday of the month.
Special—Special meetings can be called as needed to conduct any business and includes any meeting that is scheduled after the board calendar is approved at the annual organizational meeting. As much notice as possible should be provided, but 24 hours’ notice is required. The Board can conduct any type of business at a special meeting.
Emergency—Emergency meetings can be held only in the case of an actual emergency that justifies less than 24 hours’ notice. Only matters relating to the emergency can be discussed or acted upon at the emergency meeting.
Executive sessions can be held during a regular, special or emergency meeting as an agenda item, but are not stand-alone meetings. The general public is not allowed to observe executive sessions and no board action may occur during these sessions. Minutes must be kept for the executive session, but those minutes are not released to the public. The media is allowed to attend executive sessions except meetings relating to labor negotiations, to expel a student, to discuss a student’s confidential medical record or for litigation in which the reporter or media is involved.
EXECUTIVE SESSION can be held for the following reasons: ORS 192.660
- To consider the employment of a public officer, employee, staff member or individual agent. ORS 192.660(2)(a). The AG manual specifies that this is only for the initial hiring of an individual. This does not apply to appointing a board member to fill a vacancy. There are additional advertising and procedural requirements found in ORS 192.660(7)(d).
- To consider the dismissal or disciplining of, or to hear complaint or charges brought against, a public officer, employee, staff member or individual agent who does not request an open hearing. ORS 192.660(2)(b). The person addressed in the complaint must be notified in order to give them the opportunity to request an open session.
- To conduct deliberations with persons designated by the governing body to carry on labor negotiations. ORS 192.660(2)(d). The actual labor negotiations must be held in open session unless both parties agree to hold them in executive session. ORS 192.660(3).
- To conduct deliberations with persons designated by the governing body to negotiate real property transactions. ORS 192.660(2)(e).
- To consider records exempt by law from public inspection. ORS 192.660(2)(f).
- To consult with counsel concerning the legal rights and duties of a public body with regard to current litigation or litigation likely to be filed. ORS 192.660(2)(h).
- To review and evaluate the performance of the chief executive officer, employee or staff member, unless the person whose performance is being reviewed and evaluated requests an open hearing. ORS 192.660(2)(i).
- To consider matters relating to school safety or a plan that responds to safety threats made toward a school. ORS 192.660(2)(k).
- To conduct a hearing on the expulsion of a student or to review a student’s confidential medical records. ORS 332.061(1).
Resources to help explain Oregon's public records and meetings law including running effective meetings. To read the Oregon Attorney General's Public Records and Meetings Manual available on the Oregon Dept. of Justice/Attorney General website, click on the link.
Information on this page is provided by OSBA-Oregon School Boards Association.
How do board meetings work?
The board chair calls the meeting to order and leads with the pledge of allegiance. The board chair asks for a motion to approve the agenda and, assuming this occurs, proceeds to guide them through it. The board agenda is posted on line the Friday before a Tuesday meeting by 5:00 PM. The agenda will include links to reports and action items when available. In addition to posting the agenda on the districts website, the agenda is emailed out to all staff, budget committee members, and media. Typically, a meeting starts with reports from various staff, students and administrators. This is usually a time for the board to listen and ask questions. Members of the audience are allowed to comment on any item listed on the agenda. A blue comment card is available at the beginning of the meeting for the community to fill out, alerting the board chair that they wish to speak. At the appropriate time on the agenda the board chair will call upon the community member and is given 3 minutes for their comment. The law prohibits the board from hearing complaints regarding any personally identifiable District staff member. The board’s role during public comment is not to immediately respond, but to listen. If there is follow-up necessary, the board chair will direct the superintendent to do so.
Now let's get down to business!
The board typically makes the majority of motions under the Action Item portion of the agenda. These may include things such as budget appropriations, policy updates, authorizing the purchase of new curriculum or approving the school calendar. The board chair states the motion and, if necessary, explains the repercussions of the vote. If the agenda item includes a presentation or explanation to the board, the board chair will defer to the appropriate person to do so. After the presentation, it is appropriate for the board chair to request a motion be made and seconded before further discussion takes place. Only then should they recognize a speaker, to discuss only the motion on the floor. The makers of the motion and the second have the right to speak first. If there is no motion to discuss the agenda item, the board chair should move to the next agenda item.
Assuming there is a motion (and a second) for discussion, after the vote is taken the board chair should state for the record whether the motion passes or fails and the vote count. At that point there should be no further discussion on that motion.