School boards across Central New York often schedule executive sessions in advance of meetings without realizing it's a violation of New York's Open Meetings Law to do so.
Liverpool If you’ve ever been to a school board meeting in Central New York, you’ve probably noticed something on the agenda called an executive session. You probably didn’t know that the school board isn’t allowed, under New York state’s Open Meetings Law, to schedule an executive session on its agenda.
Odds are the members of the board who put together the agenda weren’t aware of that fact, either.
An executive session is a portion of the meeting that is closed to the public. Only the members of the board and anyone authorized by the board may be in attendance at the executive session. According to §105 of New York State Open Meetings Law, a public body may only enter into executive session for the following reasons:
a. matters which will imperil the public safety if disclosed;
b. any matter which may disclose the identity of a law enforcement agent or informer;
c. information relating to current or future investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense which would imperil effective law enforcement if disclosed;
d. discussions regarding proposed, pending or current litigation;
e. collective negotiations pursuant to article fourteen of the civil service law;
f. 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;
g. the preparation, grading or administration of examinations; and
h. the proposed acquisition, sale or lease of real property or the proposed acquisition of securities, or sale or exchange of securities held by such public body, but only when publicity would substantially affect the value thereof.
Under the law, the public body cannot take action by formal vote on anything discussed in executive session; they must reconvene in open session before a vote can be taken.