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PAC Issues 2022 Annual Report, Summarizing Significant Binding and Non-Binding Opinions

Education K-12 Education

The Public Access Counselor (“PAC”) recently issued its Annual Report, which provides an overview of binding PAC opinions and non-binding determination letters issued in 2022, among other topics. We reported on several of the binding opinions identified in the Annual Report in prior alerts:  

In addition, the Annual Report includes a summary of a non-binding determination letter that is particularly topical for K-12 schools. In the determination letter, the PAC concluded that a Board of Education improperly discussed whether to ban a particular book in closed session. The Board argued that its discussion regarding the book was proper under the OMA exception that permits personnel discussions in closed session. The Board went on to reason that the discussion centered on whether school librarians appropriately placed the book in the high school libraries. Following review of the closed session recording, the PAC found that the Board did discuss the process for resolving complaints about media selected by staff members. The PAC, however, found that the Board also discussed the contents of the book, whether the book should be removed from the library, and the logistics of voting on the matter in open session. Therefore, the PAC determined that the closed session discussion was improper. While non-binding, this determination letter serves as a reminder to Boards of Education that closed session discussions must adhere to the narrow exemptions under the OMA.  

The Annual Report also includes advisory opinions issued by the PAC in 2022. One advisory opinion of note reiterates the PAC’s position that the 48-hour agenda posting requirement under the OMA is measured in calendar hours, not business hours. As a reminder, Section 2.02(a) of the OMA requires a public body to post its meeting agenda “at least 48 hours in advance of the holding of the meeting.” Accordingly, if a Board meeting is scheduled for Monday evening at 6:30 p.m., the agenda would have to be posted no later than Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m. 

If you have any questions about the opinions above or the applicability of OMA or FOIA to your institution, please reach out to one of the authors of this post or any Franczek attorney.