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New Law to Affect Closed Meetings

Ventura County residents who like to know what their local school boards are up to will soon be able to learn in advance what trustees plan to discuss at closed meetings.

Under revisions to the state’s open-meeting law scheduled to take effect April 1, all elected panels such as school boards are required to publish agendas for their closed sessions, in addition to their regular meetings, said Ventura County Deputy Dist. Atty. Don Coleman, an expert on the Ralph M. Brown Act.

School boards generally go behind closed doors to discuss matters such as disciplining teachers, expelling students, filing lawsuits or negotiating with employee unions.

But most school board agendas refer to such items only by the number of the relevant state code, with no explanation whether the subject is an expulsion, lawsuit or other matter.

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Under the Brown Act amendments, agendas will have to explain precisely what issues will be discussed during a closed session.

But school boards will still be free to withhold names of teachers or students discussed in closed session to protect their privacy.


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