Q&A: School board appointments

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From The Post & Mail (Columbia City):

Q: A local school board member resigned last month. The remainder of the school board plans to vote on a replacement member to take the vacant seat until the term expires. To interview prospective board members, they are going into executive session.

Is all of this allowed? Can the board go into executive session to interview candidates for an elected position? Does the board have the authority to fill the vacancy?

A: I believe the situation falls under the Open Door Law at IC 5-14-1.5-6.1(b)(10), which allows for an executive session:

“When considering the appointment of a public official, to do the following:

(A) Develop a list of prospective appointees.

(B) Consider applications.

(C) Make one (1) initial exclusion of prospective appointees from further consideration.

“… a governing body may release and shall make available for inspection and copying in accordance with IC 5-14-3-3 identifying information concerning prospective appointees not initially excluded from further consideration. An initial exclusion of prospective appointees from further consideration may not reduce the number of prospective appointees to fewer than three (3) unless there are fewer than three (3) prospective appointees. Interviews of prospective appointees must be conducted at a meeting that is open to the public.”

I believe the school board does have the authority to fill the vacancy, but interviewing candidates must be done in an open meeting. The above outlines what they could do behind closed doors as part of the process.

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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