What is the potential liability for both a charter committee member and the charter school for a potentially defamatory comment made by the committee member?
Committee members are considered agents of the organization. ORS 30.265 states “every public body is subject to civil action for its torts and those of its officers, employees and agents acting within the scope of their employment or duties”. So, if the committee member is acting within the scope of their duties (participation during the meeting), the charter is obligated to provide coverage.
While charters are exempt from many of the laws governing school boards, ORS ORS 338.115 requires charters to follow ORS 192.610 to 192.690 (public meeting laws).
This underscores the important role of the chair. First, the chair must ensure that each member is oriented to appropriate meeting behavior. Second, the chair must be ready to gavel inappropriate comments whether made by committee members or the audience.