• Exceptions to Open Meetings

    [return to School Board Main Page]

    Under the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act, 65 Pa. C.S. 701, there are three exceptions to the general rule that meetings must take place in public. Those three exceptions are:
    1. Executive Sessions – A school district is permitted to hold an executive session for specific purposes that will be described later in this memo.
    2. Conferences – A school district is authorized to participate in a conference, which need not be open to the public, where there is no deliberation of agency business. For example, if the Board were listening to an administrative presentation on a particular subject and there will be no deliberation on the subject, it could be done through conference.
    3. Certain Working Sessions – Boards of auditors may conduct working sessions not open to the public for the purposes of examining, analyzing, discussing, and deliberating the various accounts and records with the Boards who are responsible, so long as official action with respect to the audit would take place at a public meeting.

    The balance of this memo will examine the specific reasons for an executive session:

    The following are the only reasons for an executive session:
    • Discussions of any matter involving the employment, appointment, termination of employment, terms and conditions of employment, evaluation of performance, promotion, or disciplining of any employee or similar issues.
    • To hold information, strategy, and negotiating sessions relating to the negotiation or arbitration of a collective bargaining agreement or any issues relating to discussions pertaining to compensation plans.
    • To consider the purchase or lease of property up to the time an option to purchase or lease is obtained or up to the time an agreement to purchase or lease such property is obtained.
    • To consult with an attorney or other professional advisor relating to information or strategy in connection with litigation or with an issue in which there is a specific complaint or one expected to be filed.
    • To review items if discussed in public would violate a privacy right, the attorney/client privilege, or some other type of privilege or lead to the disclosure of information or confidentiality protected by law, including matters relating to the conduct of investigations of violations of law, or deliberations relating to a student expulsion, an employee termination, or any item that would violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
    • to plan, review or discuss matters related to school safety if a public discussion would be reasonably likely to impair the effectiveness of such measures; or create a likelihood of jeopardizing the safety or security of an individual or a school, including a building, public utility, resource, infrastructure, facility or information storage system.