Debunking a Common Myth about the Michigan Open Meetings Act

We see stories on the news frequently about board meetings and how they are conducted. Just this week, the University of Michigan Board of Regents was criticized for closing a public meeting because the presence of protesters. The standards that apply to these situations can be confusing and are often the subject of intense debate. In this issue of LegalEase, we take a look at the statutes applicable to these situations and decipher exactly when public bodies can be in closed sessions.

The Michigan Open Meetings Act (OMA), enacted in 1977, is similar to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in that they are both considered "sunshine statutes." These statutes were enacted to promote openness and transparency in governmental actions. 

The OMA applies to a school board of education because this entity falls under the statutory definition of a "public body." A common misconception about the application of the OMA to a school board is that the board may meet in closed session whenever the issue in consideration is an employment matter, including those issues that are "personal" or a "union matter." Quite the contrary is true. READ MORE HERE.

Additional Insights...

OCR Issues New Guidance on Bullying and Students with Disabilities

The federal Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has recently issued guidance on responding to the bullying of students with disabilities.  Most significantly, in a “Dear Colleague Letter” dated October 21, 2014, OCR emphasizes that certain actions are required to be taken by a school district regardless of whether the alleged bullying is thought to be based on the student’s disability. READ MORE HERE.

Tenure Commission Defers to School District Recall Policy and Denies Laid Off Teacher’s Claim

The Tenure Commission, within a case handled by Lusk & Albertson, has rejected the claim of a laid off tenured teacher that she should have been recalled to a vacant position filled by a new-hire probationary teacher.  Weidendorf v West Bloomfield School District, Case No. (14-3, decided October 17, 2014). READ MORE HERE.