S Memo 14-7

Posted on Oct 11, 2013 in Informal Opinions - Sunshine Law

S Memo 14-7
October 11, 2013
Executive Meeting to Discuss Dr. M.R.C. Greenwood

Requesters Keoki Kerr and Malia Zimmerman, on behalf of Hawaii News Now and Hawaii Reporter, Stirling Morita, on behalf of the Society of Professional Journalists, and Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, made similar requests asking whether the University of Hawaii (UH) Board of Regents (BOR) violated the Sunshine Law when it discussed, in executive meeting, the future employment and requested leave of absence of outgoing UH President MRC Greenwood.  The Senate President also requested OIP review the executive meeting minutes to determine whether there were any Sunshine Law violations.

OIP found that the executive agenda item on Dr. Greenwood was sufficiently detailed to allow the public to understand the subject matter and decide whether to attend and participate in the meeting.  And, when read together with the public portion of the agenda pertaining to Dr. Greenwood,  it was clear that the executive meeting was to discuss Dr. Greenwood’s new position with the school of medicine.  OIP therefore concluded that the agenda met the Sunshine Law’s notice requirements.

OIP also concluded that the BOR properly entered into an executive meeting to discuss matters affecting Dr. Greenwood’s privacy, which arose from consideration of the proposal to hire her as a future faculty member of UH.  Given the Sunshine Law’s express language allowing the executive meeting to consider the hire or evaluation of an employee “where consideration of matters affecting privacy will be involved” and the sufficiently detailed notice of the BOR’s intent to discuss Dr. Greenwood’s proposed hire as a faculty member, OIP further concluded that the BOR’s discussions in an executive meeting did not violate the Sunshine Law.  Moreover,  the subsequent limited disclosure by a few BOR members of what was discussed in the reconvened public portion of the meeting was not an indication that the executive meeting was not appropriate at the time it was convened.