A&A: Posting agendas and notification of action in special/closed sessions

Posting agendas and notification of action in special/closed sessions

Q: A School Board is subject to the Brown Act yet a principal was dismissed without cause after a Special meeting /closed session in which no one was notified nor was it posted at the site where the meeting was held (it was posted on a website) nor has the decision been posted for the ten day requirement following the meeting. The staff and parents are in an uproar over the methods and dismissal. What can be done?

A: Under the Brown Act, agendas are required to be posted “in a location that is freely accessible to members of the public” at least 72 hours before a regular meeting.  Cal. Gov’t Code § 54954.2(a).  The same is true with respect to special meetings.  Cal. Gov’t Code § 54956.  The Brown Act does not require the school board to (1) post the agenda specifically at the site where meetings are held, or (2) personally notify people who are the topic of agenda items.
The Brown Act requires the school board to publicly report any action taken in closed session and the vote or abstention of every member present, including among other things, any action taken to dismiss public employees in closed session.  Cal. Gov’t Code § 54957.1(a)(5).  I am unaware of any Brown Act requirement that the school board’s decision be posted for 10 days following the meeting.

If there was a violation of the Brown Act, your remedies are: (1) to demand that the School District board cure and correct the violation, and if they do not then sue to have the action taken by the board through the closed session process set aside; or (2) simply sue to have a court declare that the board violated the Brown Act and enjoin it from doing so in the future.  See California Government Code sections 54960, 54960.1.  Please note that “any interested person” can pursue these remedies.

If you take the former course in an effort to obtain a determination that your dismissal is null and void, there are some very short deadlines and technical requirements set forth in California Government Code section 54960.1(c) you must satisfy:

(a)     Notice and a demand to “cure and correct” the violation must be given, in writing, within 90 days from the date the action was taken.  (30 days if the basis for the notice is that the action was not on an agenda or not adequately described).

(b)     The local agency has 30 days to take action.

(c)     If the local agency responds and refuses to correct the problem or does nothing, the challenger has 15 days to initiate court proceedings to nullify the action.