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January 19, 2022

Request: Did Hettinger Public School violate the open meetings laws by failing to properly describe the subject matter and legal authority before entering an executive session and by holding an unauthorized executive session?

Conclusion: At its regular meeting, the Hettinger School Board received a letter from the Hettinger Agriculture Education Advisory Board Committee recommending that a part-time teaching position become full-time. The Board then passed a motion to enter an executive session to “discuss negotiating strategy.” The meeting notice failed to provide any information to the public about the topic of the executive session. During the approximately 41-minute executive session no actual negotiation discussion took place; rather, the board members talked about unrelated topics. The board’s announcement before entering the executive session failed to convey a specific topic to be discussed. The executive session failed to meet the legal authority and they discussed topics outside the announced topics. In these respects, the Board violated the law. The Board must provide, at no cost, the recording or transcript of the executive session.

Opinion: 2022-O-02

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