Board Retreat Discussions Can Violate Open Meeting Laws – a RI Case Compare NY

While you may not realize it, violations of the Open Meetings Law happen more often than you think. Think Board of Education meets at a “Board Retreat” and uses that opportunity to discuss policy related matters outside the purview of public knowledge.  Often, this is a violation of the OML. This RI Judge ruled against the BOE citing that this kind of behavior violates OML. The subject was high stakes testing. My own school district has violated OML in the past by holding Board Retreat sessions and using that opportunity to discuss education/policy related matters.

In NY, BOE and Supers often say that Retreat meetings do not have to be open to the public as long as the board does not discuss “public business.”

Compare, Robert Freeman Committee on Open Government provides the scope of topics that may be discussed at a Board Retreat in NY:

NYS Committee on Open Govt Executive Director Robert Freeman said board members can gather together “as long they do not discuss the public’s business in their capacities as members of the board.”

NYSSBA Board Retreat:

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