When do committee meetings have to follow public meetings laws about posting and minutes?

All meetings of governing boards such as school boards, and their sub- and advisory committees are subject to Oregon Public Meetings Law (ORS 192.610-192.710). The law applies to subcommittees and advisory committees delegated to advise a public body (usually the school board) but not when the committee’s only purpose is to advise an individual public official.

This means that committees formed by the board – whether they consist only of board members or consist of only non-board members – that report to the board with their advice, recommendations or decisions, are subject to public meetings laws. Committees formed by the superintendent, principal or other person in the district to advise them on their work are not subject to public meetings laws.

School councils under the Oregon Educational Act for the 21st Century are covered by the Public Meetings Law (ORS 329.704)

Search committees and screening committees formed in response to superintendent- or college-president vacancies, board policy and finance subcommittees and community-building committees that report to the board, are subject to the public meetings laws.

Confusion may occur when a committee is formed by the board to work with the superintendent or another administrator on a topic that the individual administrator will then report on to the board. Whose recommendation or advice is being reported? If the administrator is reporting only the committee’s recommendation, it is subject to the public meetings law. If the administrator may ignore the advice and report only her or his own recommendation, the committee is not subject to public meetings law.

Another confusing situation occurs if there is a quorum of board members on a committee formed by the superintendent to advise the superintendent. In this case, I would say post the meeting, because a quorum of board members is discussing district business. It can be posted as a committee meeting, not a board meeting.

In general, I recommend: When in doubt, post it.

For more information on this question, Ask Betsy's Team.