211 – Open Meetings; Closed Sessions

Open Meetings.

Meetings of the Board of Directors shall be open to the public unless otherwise authorized to be closed by federal or state law. Final action by the Board of Directors on any matter shall be taken in open meeting unless a provision of the Code of Iowa expressly permits such actions to be taken in closed session. Any gathering of a majority of Board members, either formal or informal, in which deliberation or action on a policy matter takes place is defined as a meeting. A gathering for the sole purpose of social or ministerial action shall not constitute a Board meeting.

Closed Sessions.

Two categories of Board meetings may be closed to the public. The first category is known as “exceptions” to the open meetings law, the second category is known as “exemptions” to the open meetings law.

Exceptions to Open Meetings.

The tentative agenda will note when a matter covered by an exception to the open meetings law will be discussed in closed session. A specific motion stating the reason for the closed session must be made and seconded in open session. The motion requires a two-thirds affirmative roll call vote of the total membership of the Board (5 members) or an affirmative roll call vote of all of the members present at the meeting. The vote of each member on the question of holding the closed session and the reason for holding the session shall be announced publicly in open session and entered in the minutes. The Board shall determine who will be present at a closed session. The Board may enter into a closed session for any reason authorized by law, including:

a. To review or discuss records which are required or authorized by state or federal law to be kept confidential as a condition for the District’s possession or receipt of federal funds.
b. To discuss strategy with counsel in matters presently in litigation or where litigation is imminent if disclosure would be likely to prejudice or disadvantage the position of the District in that litigation.
c. To discuss whether to conduct a hearing or to conduct hearings to suspend or expel a student, unless an open session is requested by the student or the student’s parent or guardian if the student is a minor.
d. To discuss specific law enforcement matters which, if disclosed, would enable law violators to avoid detection.
e. To evaluate the professional competency of an individual whose appointment, hiring, performance, or discharge is being considered, when a closed session is necessary to prevent needless and irreparable injury to that individual’s reputation and when that individual requests a closed session.
f. To discuss the purchase or sale of particular real estate, but only when premature disclosure could be reasonably expected to increase the price the Board would have to pay for the property, or could be reasonably expected to reduce the price the Board would receive for the sale of property.

Closed sessions shall be tape-recorded and detailed minutes shall be kept. The tape recording and detailed minutes will not be public records open to public inspection. However, the tape recording and detailed minutes of the purchase or sale of real estate will be available to the public once the transaction is complete.

Exemptions to the Open Meetings Law.

A meeting that is exempt from the open meetings law can be held without public notice, without a tentative agenda and without a vote to go into closed session, and may be separate from any open public meeting.

The Board may meet at any time to:

  • discuss negotiation strategy regarding a certified bargaining unit,
  • discuss negotiation strategy for groups of employees not included in a certified bargaining unit,
  • conduct a private hearing relating to the recommended termination of a teacher’s contract,
  • conduct a private hearing relating to the termination of a nonprobationary administrator’s contract.

There are no legal requirements for any type of a record to be maintained of the negotiation strategy sessions. The private hearing in the teacher’s contract termination shall be recorded verbatim by a certified shorthand reporter. There is no requirement for minutes or a tape recording to be maintained for the hearing in the termination of a nonprobationary administrator’s contract.

Date of Revision: February 6, 2012

Legal References: 20.17(3), Chapter 21, Chapter 22, 279.15, 279.24 Code of Iowa


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