A Change with respect to following the Open Meeting Law
For many years, MassPAC had been advocating that the MA Open Meeting Law should not govern SEPAC activities. SEPACs have an open and undetermined membership (open to all interested parties) and are not decision-making bodies (not empowered to act collectively), threefore they should not be considered public bodies.
In light of recent complaints filed with respect to several SEPACs, the MA Division of Open Government issued a determination letter dated October 28, 2021/OML 2021-150 decision
. The conclusion was that the SEPACs were not public bodies subject to the Open Meeting Law and that unless SEPAC by-laws gave authority to the officers to act collectively, the Executive Board was also not subject to the Open Meeting Law. You can find a quick summary of the decision on the AG’s website – https://www.mass.gov/…/frequently-asked-questions-about…
SEPACs still have the same legislative authority to act as advisory councils to the school district and best practices would include sharing an agenda in advance of a meeting, discussing advisory issues in a public forum and keeping meeting minutes. I hope this ruling allows a robust discussion of issues, an opportunity to grow SEPAC membership, and an incentive for more parents to step up to leadership in your communities.
SEPACS can still use these resources to guide them in their practices.
Posting a Meeting Notice
Notice to the public should include the date, time and place (in-person or virtual) and a proposed list of the matters to be discussed at a meeting.
Checklist for Creating and Approving Meeting Minutes
Minutes should include summaries of discussions, all documents used, and a list of all votes taken or decisions made. Meeting minutes also serve to document the history of the group and inform absent members. Minutes should be made available upon request.