Ask Joe Eisner: May a Library Board Meet Less Often…

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As part of LTA’s expansion of service to aid and assist library trustees and directors, LTA offers members an opportunity to confer with Joe Eisner, free of charge.

Joe can be contacted toll-free at 1 (866) 720-8969 or by email at ltafaqjoe@librarytrustees.org. (Question are handled with discretion.)

For more information about Joe Eisner’s experience and background, please click on the “Ask Joe Eisner” tab under “Resources and Links” on LTA’s website.

Please note: The following should not be construed as legal advice, for which the services of counsel should be obtained:


The following should not be construed as legal advice, for which the services of counsel should be obtained.

Q. May an elected member of a school district  board of education simultaneously serve as elected member of the  school district public library?

 A. Yes. There is no incompatibility in such a situation: “One person may simultaneously serve as a member of a central school district board of education and as a trustee of a library created by that district” (1984 Op Atty Genl (Inf) 264). However, incompatibility of office would exist in the following situation: “A school district treasurer who ex officio acts as a treasurer of the school district public library may not at the same time occupy the office of trustee of such public library” (8 Op State Compt 414, 1960).

 Q. May a library board convene a “private meeting” at the home of a board member without public notice in order to discuss the performance of a staff member?

 A. No. Education Law s260-a mandates that boards of association and public libraries and library systems conduct all meetings in accordance with the provisions of the Open Meetings Law (OML). There is no provision in the OML which permits a library board to hold a “private meeting”, although it may hold an executive session for any of the eight  reasons specified in Public Officers Law s105(1) (a-g), one of which permits board discussion of a staff member’s performance.

 Thus, any board meeting must be held in a public place, except if the existence of an emergency situation involving unavailability of a public place would prevent this. Additionally,  local media must be notified, and if the library maintains a web site, notice of the date, time and place of the proposed meeting must also be listed on the website.

 An executive session may be may be entered into after the board first convenes in public session. The agenda for executive session  as well as the aforementioned notifications should note that the purpose of the meeting is to enter into executive session. At the public meeting a motion should then be made to enter into executive session. The motion should include the phrase  “to discuss the performance of a particular staff member”. Use of wording or a phrase such as “to discuss a personnel matter” is impermissible.

 When the board concludes its discussion in executive session, a motion must be made to adjourn such session. If no vote (formal action)  was taken, the minutes of the executive session may indicate that “No formal action was taken“’ If a vote is taken in  executive session, minutes would be required, but need not be verbatim. Any formal action would best be recorded in the minutes of the  subsequent public meeting following the session, or in a public meeting properly convened in accordance with the OML’s requirements.

  1.  I am aware that it is desirable that for other than “Ask Joe” submissions  which will be used as a blog, there is a 450 word limit, so if the total of the above two answers is more than 450 words combined, I suggest not printing the first question  and answer, reserving its use for a future date. Obviously, I’m hoping that the second q and a is 450 words or less, but I haven’t counted the words.

  2. If it is at all possible, without creating an undue burden,  can the above material be reproduced as submitted, that is with the bolded or italicized material left that way?

Please note: If you have any additional questions about this topic, please contact Joe Eisner at the e-mail/phone above.

 

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