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Student Safety and the Open Meetings Act

Brad Banasik

By Brad Banasik, MASB Legal Counsel/Director of Labor Relations & Policy

DashBoard, Feb. 28, 2018

Does the Open Meetings Act allow a school board to meet in closed session to discuss school security and student safety?

Presently, OMA doesn’t include an exception that specifically permits a school board to consider security planning for the purpose of student safety in a closed meeting. The Freedom of Information Act, however, includes a provision that provides confidentiality to
“[r]ecords of a public body’s security measures, including security plans, security codes and combinations, passwords, passes, keys, and security procedures, to the extent that the records are related to the ongoing security of the public body.” (MCL 15.243(1)(u))

Read in conjunction with OMA, this FOIA provision allows a school board to meet in closed session to discuss documented plans and procedures related to the ongoing security of the school district.

Section 8(h) of OMA permits closed meetings of a public body to consider material exempt from discussion or disclosure by state or federal statute. (MCL 15.268(h)) This exception is usually applied to allow a school board to meet in closed session to discuss a written opinion from legal counsel that is subject to the attorney-client privilege. It, however, does not authorize a school board to hold a closed session for the purpose of receiving an oral legal opinion because oral opinions are not within the definition of “public records.”

Thus, FOIA and OMA permit a school board to meet in closed session to discuss security measures, plans or procedures as long as they are documented in public records. The motion to approve going into closed session must be taken by a roll call vote and at least two-thirds of the members currently serving on the board must vote in favor of the motion, which would be five affirmative votes for a seven-member board.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the MASB Legal Team at 517.327.5900.

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