Posted on Oct 30, 2006 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. 06-07
October 30, 2006
Executive Meeting Minutes Re: Employee Evaluation

After the Board of Education (“BOE”) denied separate requests to access portions of BOE’s executive meeting minutes (“the Minutes”) related to the evaluation of Dr. James Shon, then Executive Director of the Charter School Administrative Office and the audiotape of the meeting, requesters appealed that denial to OIP. Although the Sunshine Law recognizes that a board may withhold executive meeting minutes to avoid frustration of its ability to protect certain matters properly discussed in a closed meeting under the Sunshine Law, the Sunshine Law also recognizes that, at a future point in time, the need to maintain the confidentiality of information contained in an executive meeting’s minutes may end.

OIP determined that BOE must disclose portions of the Minutes and the audiotape recording reflecting the motions voted on regarding Dr. Shon’s retention as well as the votes cast by the individual BOE members on those motions. Disclosure of these portions would not defeat the executive meeting’s lawful purpose of protecting the privacy interests of Dr. Shon in light of the fact that BOE’s decision to not continue his appointment was made public and given the strong public interest in knowing how the elected BOE members are performing their duties.

In addition, OIP found that BOE must also disclose those portions of the Minutes and the audiotape recording reflecting its discussion related to certain procedural issues and other matters unrelated to Dr. Shon as BOE did not provide any reasonable basis to justify withholding that information. However, the remaining portions of the Minutes and audiotape recording comprising Dr. Shon’s evaluation itself, including BOE’s discussion and deliberations on Dr. Shon’s retention, may be withheld.

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