Incoming Superintendent Sitting in on Closed Session
Q: An incoming superintendent, his term does not being until June, was in on a closed session item on the appointment of a new principal last month. The incoming superintendent was the head of the search committee from the principal and it was his recommendation the board considered and approved.
Was it legal for him to be in on the closed session item although his term as superintendent hasn’t started yet?
A: The California Attorney General has concluded that only members of the legislative body and others whose attendance is required may attend a closed session, and that the body — here, the school board — cannot admit any one else, even those who have an interest in the meeting, without allowing the general public to attend. 46 Ops. Cal. Atty Genl. 34, 35 (1965).
The district would no doubt argue that attendance of the head of the search committee was required in order to discuss and answer questions about the committee’s recommendation, and therefore attendance of the incoming superitendent who was also head of the search committee did not require the meeting to be open. I’m not aware of any authority addressing this question. There is another Attorney General opinion that says that a committee appointed by a school board to interview candidates for superintendent can hold closed sessions, even if that committee includes members of the community, district employees and a student. 80 Ops. Cal. Atty Gen. 308 (1997). It may follow that the committee members could then attend the board’s closed session to consider the committee’s recommendation(s).