Do executive session minutes need to be reviewed, voted on and approved by the board? How should this be done?

There is no statutory requirement in Oregon for the board to approve minutes for either public or executive session. Robert’s Rules of Order treats approval of the minutes as part of the normal and expected order of business. Most boards have adopted a policy stating the board will follow Robert’s Rules of Order, and most vote to adopt the public session minutes. The problems start with how to vote to approve the executive session minutes. Executive session minutes are an exempt public record. In order for the board to review and discuss them, the board needs to hold another executive session, which generates another set of executive session minutes…which necessitates another executive session to review and discuss them, and the cycle just goes on and on. Consequently, most boards do not review or vote to approve executive session minutes. Some boards have begun to audio tape their executive sessions and keep them as the only minutes.

The records retention requirements for K-12 and ESD school boards require anything which must be kept ‘forever’ (this includes minutes) cannot be kept only in digital format. This means minutes, including executive session minutes, have to be converted to print format. 

An option for those who want to vote to approve the executive session minutes, is for the district to send each board member a confidential copy of the executive session minutes in advance of the meeting. The board votes to approve them in public, holding an executive session to discuss them only if a board member wants to make a change or discuss the content of the minutes. None of these solutions is perfect, and your board needs to discuss the process and come to a conclusion on what makes the most sense for you.

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