A&A: Agenda Item Descriptions

Agenda Item Descriptions

Q: Is it a Brown Act violation for a School Board agenda to include an item on its agenda called “Board Discussion”?  I read 54954.2(b) An agenda must …shall state the meeting time and place and must contain “a brief general description of each item of business to be transacted or discussed at the meeting, including items to be discussed in closed session…” to require a general description of the item to be discussed and not limited to the party doing the discussion.  What do you say?

A: The California Attorney General has concluded that, under Government Code § 54954.2, the agenda must include a sufficient description “to inform interested members of the public about the subject matter under consideration so that they can determine whether to monitor or participate in the meeting of the body.”   The Brown Act: Open meetings for Local Legislative Bodies.

Under the Brown Act, then, the notice you described would seem to be deficient.

Agendas for school board meetings, however, are governed by the Education Code § 966.  The California Court of Appeal has held that section 966 also requires a meaningful, if brief, description, so that an agendas listing “school site change” or “Resolution Regarding Certified Employees” were both held to be inadequate, in Carlson v. Paradise Unified School District, 18 Cal. App. 3d 196 (1971) and Campbell Elementary Teachers Ass’n v. Abbott, 76 Cal. App. 3d 796 (1978), respectively.  If those agenda items were inadequate, it would seem that “Board Discussion” would also be inadequate to satisfy section 966.