Thursday, November 7, 2013

MASC 13: School Law 101

on Open Meeting Law, ethics, and public records
with apologies for the part missed in the middle; I had to take a phone call

Open Meeting Law
now under enforcement by AG, not DA
"continue to see that most violations are misunderstandings, not intentional. Training and education are the most important thing we do in the office."
Be sure to look at their website.
public meeting law checklist
can't discuss specifics
OML: applies to public body
and she here is reviewing the basics that I took notes on over here.
comments here around subcommittees created to make advisory, that have some authority over making decisions
a quorum of the School Committee meeting on a matter within their jurisdiction must meet in open session
"very sticky with electronic communication"
"the sense that you may be avoiding transparency by using email..government transparency at all costs"
Decisions 2013-4,5,6 all involve this issue (full list of decisions is here)
Because email is sent within your duties as a member of a public body, email should be kept as a public record, thus needs to create a record (as is done with public email systems).
scheduling one's own meeting is fine via email
serial communication: sending an email to a single member, who sends it along to others, creating a quorum
executive session
purposes of executive session must be published in advance with as much detail as possible without compromising the reasons of the executive session

sorry, missed a bunch here
emails that are part of your public position are public record, and are something that can be requested by the public
a judge who oversees a public records request can require all emails and then decide which are public
it would therefore be good practice not to use your personal email for public use

in 2009, state conflict of interest law was amended to include (among others) training in conflict of interest.
Handouts summarizing the law  acknowledged by receipients
liaison to the ethics commission
special online training for municipal employees
everyone should have completed the online training; once done, they don't have to do it again for two years
Not a test, it's an online learning tool
gifts to teachers: those without retail value are best
those less than $50, teacher is required to have a written disclosure of the gift whenever they make any decision regarding that student
best to have class gifts
school committee cannot participate in a vote in which a school committee member's family member has a financial interest, positive or negative; they should not vote and not participate in the discussion
school committee members should not vote on payroll items for their family members, either.
However, the "rule of last resort" allows, in the case of necessity, for this to happen if particular steps are followed.

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