Q&A: Board meeting minutes

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From a Jasper resident:

Q: A board meets and approves its minutes, but it doesn’t allow anyone to see the minutes before they are approved or speak on the proposed minutes before they are approved. Is this OK under the state’s public access laws?

A: The Open Door Law only gives citizens the right to observe and record public meetings. The board is not obligated to give citizens an opportunity to speak before the minutes are approved.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea for boards to allow citizen participation in their meetings.

As to the availability of the minutes, they are public records as soon as they are created. The board cannot keep them confidential prior to the meeting based on the reasoning that they haven’t been approved. Anyone should be able to get a copy of the minutes once they are created. The board can stamp “Draft” on the document but must provide copies when requested.

The other option for citizens is to ask for the memoranda. This document is created during a board’s meeting, so it should be available the next business day. You don’t have to wait for the minutes to be created if you’re getting a copy of the memoranda.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.

 

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