Charter School Board Transparency and Virtual Meetings
COVID-19 has changed the way charter school boards must operate. And it’s made transparency both more important and more complicated.
Whether or not your state has issued clear guidelines with regards to entities that have to comply with the state’s open meeting law but must operate remotely, compliance and transparency are still expected.
Maintain transparency, even in this changing regulatory environment.
The first three steps to continuing to adhere to open meeting laws:
- Determine as a board, with your CEO, who your most trusted source(s) will be for keeping updated on your state’s laws.
- Appoint one person to stay on top of those laws and what they’ll mean for your board.
- When in doubt, try to adhere to the spirit of the law to the extent possible. Make it clear that you’re acting in good faith. Document in your minutes any decisions on meeting protocols.
Consider your bylaws.
If your bylaws refer to in-person meetings or specifics about compliance with the state’s open meeting laws, you might need to amend them or put a temporary resolution in place.
Establish procedures for handling public comment when meeting virtually.
Even if your state eased public comment requirements, consider the spirit of the law. Ensure that your board adopts appropriate procedures to allow public voices to be heard even while you’re meeting virtually.
Determine a protocol for handling closed sessions virtually.
And confirm that people have left the virtual meeting room before deliberating.
You might have a separate login for the closed session, so board members log out of one virtual meeting and log in to another for the closed session.
Or, depending on the technology you use, you might have one login for board members and a separate one that is for the public.
Record your meetings.
It’s prudent to maintain a record of how you operated and made decisions during these challenging times.
Most video conferencing tools have built-in recording functionality. So recording each meeting is easy to do. And unless required by law, you don’t have to share or post your recordings or transcripts.
Get your open meeting law questions answered by our experts.
Watch our on-demand webinar, Open Meeting Law Essentials.
Our experts will answer your questions and walk you through our approach to understanding and simplifying OML compliance.
Sam Falk was the Chief Customer and Product Officer at BoardOnTrack and is based in Concord, Massachusetts.