A&A: School Board Agenda Packets Availability

School Board Agenda Packets Availability

Q: I have a question about access to school board agenda packets. My understanding is that districts only need to notice a meeting 48 hours in advance, but that school board packets become public record as soon as they’re sent to the trustees. The school district that I cover has asked that I wait until Monday to pick up board packets that are sent to the trustees Friday. Up to now, it hasn’t been a problem. I’ve picked them up Monday. This week, I asked them to give me the packet Friday because I’m not going to be around next week. So far they have refused.  What is my legal standing here?

A: As you may know, the Brown Act is California’s open meetings law, and governs meetings of local agencies. See Govt Code 54950 et seq.  First, with respect to the meeting notice requirements under the Brown Act, a legislative body, including a public school board, must post an agenda at least 72 hours before the meeting.  Govt Code 54954.2.  In limited situations, special meetings may be called and noticed on 24 hours notice.  Govt Code 54956.

With regard to when you are entitled to the agenda packet, “agendas of public meetings and any other writings, when distributed to all, or a majority of all, of the members of a legislative body of a local agency by any person in connection with a matter subject to discussion or consideration at a public meeting of the body, are disclosable public records under the California Public Records Act . . ., and shall be made available upon requestwithout delay.”  Govt. Code Section 54957.5.  The language of Section 54957.5 would strongly suggest that you should be entitled to the agenda packet as soon as it becomes available, and certainly by the time it is disseminated to members of the school board.  The California Attorney General’s Office has also interpreted the provision this way, advising that where the contents of the agenda packet are not privileged or confidential, they are to be made available as soon as they are assembled, even before they are distributed to the body.