When and how can board members use e-mail to communicate with each other? Can they discuss and gain consensus on an item by e-mail?
Board members should never use e-mail to deliberate toward a consensus or decision on any issue which is going to come to the Board as business. Any deliberation toward a consensus or decision is required to occur in a public meeting where the public is allowed to observe the Board making the decision. That being said, e-mail can be useful in taking care of housekeeping-type issues. The most common housekeeping issue is determining if and when board members are available for special or emergency board meetings. Dates of meetings are considered to be housekeeping issues and can be discussed by e-mail, phone or in the parking lot without being required to have the conversation at a posted meeting. So it is absolutely OK for the chairperson of the Board to have this conversation via e-mail, or to set the time and date and then just let everyone know. Of course, if a quorum doesn't show up, you still don't have a meeting, so discussing it and finding out availability is a very good thing.