Q: Is there a legal requirement that a Community College in California post Minutes for their Board, Special and Committee Meetings within a certain timeframe? They are not doing so by the next meeting and sometimes do not do so for many many months or at all. This is an ongoing issue.
A: The Ralph M. Brown Act, which governs local legislative bodies, including community college districts, requires, among other things, that local legislative bodies conduct their meetings at noticed, agendized, and open public meetings. See Cal. Gov. Code § 54950 et seq. The Act also requires legislative bodies to report any “action taken” and the vote or abstention of each member present. § 54953(c)(2). However, the Brown Act does not specifically require local bodies to post minutes after a meeting has occurred—though some local bodies have chosen to post full meeting minutes, the Act itself only requires some type of public report when an action is taken. You may wish to review the Community College District’s bylaws to see if they include a requirement to record and post minutes after a meeting.
In any event, any meeting minutes prepared by the legislative body are presumably public records, and should be disclosable to you under a California Public Records Act (CPRA) request. Under the CPRA, any record “containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics,” Cal. Gov. Code § 6252(e)—are presumed to be open to the public and must be disclosed unless a specific provision of the Act or other law exempts them from disclosure. Therefore, if minutes of previous meetings exist in the possession of the District, then you should be able to access those minutes by submitting a CPRA request.
More information about making an effective CPRA request can be found at the First Amendment Coalition’s website here.
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP is general counsel for the First Amendment Coalition and responds to FAC hotline inquiries. In responding to these inquiries, we can give general information regarding open government and speech issues but cannot provide specific legal advice or representation. No attorney-client relationship has been formed by way of this response.