Complying with Open Meeting and Public Records Law
As an advisory council to the School Committee, the SEPAC must comply with the state’s Open Meeting and Public Records Law. SEPACs are required to post a meeting notice 48 hours in advance (excluding weekends and holidays) that contains the date, time and place of the meeting, as well as an agenda listing the topics that the Chair reasonably anticipates will be discussed at the meeting. Notices must be filed with the local municipal clerk. For regional school districts, meeting notices must be filed with each of the communities within the region or as an alternative method, SEPACs may post the notice on the regional school website. A copy of the meeting notice filed should be kept with the SEPAC’s records. SEPACs should have hard copies of the agenda at the meeting for attendees.
The Open Meeting Law and Public Records Law also require that SEPACs maintain detailed meeting minutes, to include not only the date, time and place and matters discussed, but also 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.
The MA Attorney General’s Office website has a lot of valuable information for SEPAC officers, including an online guide. The Guide is easy to read and answers many questions about how to be in compliance with the law. Online videos have also been recorded by the Attorney General’s Division of Open Government to serve as a resource to members of the public and public bodies seeking to understand the requirements of the Open Meeting Law.
Download a copy of the January 2018 Attorney General’s Open Meeting Law Guide
The Guide can help answer many of your questions:
- What meetings are covered by the Open Meeting Law?
- What constitutes a deliberation?
- What are the requirements for posting notice of meetings?
- What information must meeting notices contain?
If you have questions about the Open Meeting Law, you may contact the Division of Open Government at (617) 963-2540 or firstname.lastname@example.org.