Can the board meet in executive session to receive an update on employee performance in general?
February 28, 2014
The answer to this question is going to depend largely on the scope of the conversation you wish to have. As an initial matter, there are provisions of the executive session laws that permit discussions of individual employee's performance. Specifically ORS § 192.660(2)(b) and (i). Subsection (b) permits the board to discuss the dismissal or disciplining of an employee, or to hear complaints or charges brought against an employee. Subsection (i) permits the board to evaluate the employment related performance of the chief executive (superintendent) or other employee. One very large caveat for both of these provisions is that the employee to whom the discussion will relate gets to determine whether it is conducted in executive session or not. This fact also gives the employee a de facto right to be present at the executive session, because if the board attempts to exclude them, they may request that the discussion be held in public so that they may observe the proceedings.
Outside of these two specific scenarios, there are limited instances where employee performance can be discussed. Further, the board may not conduct a meeting under subsection (i) to " to conduct a general evaluation of an agency goal, objective or operation or any directive to personnel concerning agency goals, objectives, operations or programs." ORS § 192.660(8). As a result, there cannot be general discussions in an executive session of employee performance within the District as a whole. As an example, topics such as employee morale or effectiveness in general cannot be a subject of deliberation in executive session.
As a final note, outside of the ramifications under Oregon's public meetings laws, any board conducting reviews or evaluation of employee performance should make sure that any such review is in compliance with the District's evaluation protocols. These protocols can be found in the employee's contracts, district policy and/or the applicable collective bargaining agreements for the employees.
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