Closed sessions under the Brown Act
Q: Members of my school board choose new members as they leave the board. Can this School Board have closed sessions to discuss and decide which new Board member to elect to the Board or do these have to be public discussions?
A: If the board of the public charter school is a “legislative body” under the Brown Act, it is subject to the Brown Act and can discuss only certain topics during closed session. Whether or not the Brown Act is violated by closed meetings depends upon whether the subject matter was one properly discussed in closed session and whether the pertinent notice on the body’s agenda pertaining to such a closed session was given. If not, then the board members likely violated the Brown Act. Properly closed sessions encompass, among other things:
—To consider the appointment, employment, evaluation or performance, discipline, or dismissal of a public employee, or to hear complaints or charges brought against the employee by another person or employee, unless the employee requests a public session, but note that the term “employee” does not include an elected official or a member of a legislative body. (Cal. Gov’t Code § 54957(a)(2).) Please note, however, that the term “employee” does not include any elected official or member of the legislative body. (Cal. Gov’t Code § 54957(a)(4).)
—To discuss salaries, salary schedules, fringe benefits, and other issues within the scope of negotiations between a local agency and its employees with the local agency’s representative in those negotiations. (Cal. Gov’t Code § 54947.6(a).) Please note, that the term “employee” again does not include any elected official or member of the legislative body. (Cal. Gov’t Code § 54947.6(b).)
There are other reasons for holding a closed session, but they do not seem likely to be applicable to your situation. The text of the Brown Act provides further details as to what types of meetings can be closed.Assuming that the board of the public charter school is a “legislative body,” the board members are not “employees” within the meaning of the two sections discussed above and therefore the appointment/election of the board members is not properly the subject of a closed session.