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    Posted: Dec 14 2018 at 4:02pm


Mr. Deters shared a presentation on the Ohio Sunshine Law but focused on certain aspects. He talked

about emails and said if the email is about a meeting- that is not a problem. If one member 
responds with an opinion and another does, it is a meeting.  He said one could be fined since this 
would conduct a  meeting  without  the  public.  He  said  the  problem  is  not  the  fine,  but  
rather  the  public  relations problem. He said also, the school may have to pay attorney fees if 
it goes to court.

He said a conversation between board members do not violate the Sunshine Law. However, a string of 
meetings or one-on-one conversations may be subject to law (i.e. round-robin or serial meetings). 
He said  since  the  law  does  not  define  ‘meeting’  in  terms  of  place,  electronic  
communication  may  be subject to it.

Mr. Deters  reviewed the Executive  Session procedure. He  said you don’t  have to  vote  to  get  
out  of Executive  Session.  He  said  Board  members  may  talk  opinions  and  have  a  
discussion  in  Executive Session but you can’t deliberate or take formal action on any issue in 
Executive Session.     Mr. Deters talked  about  the  difference  between  discussions  versus  
deliberation.  He  said  deliberation  involves more  than  information  gathering,  investigation  
or  fact-finding.  Discussion  is  more  an  exchange  of words, comments or ideas.

He  said  any  committee  meeting,  even  if  there  are  no  Board  members  on  it,  it  is  
still  a  public meeting.  The Board may appoint a committee to study and make a recommendation, 
and this kind of committee meeting must be open to the public. For example - an athletic committee 
was established to report back to the Board - then that is a public meeting.    

A subcommittee could go into Executive Session.

When the meeting is recorded clearly, then it doesn’t have to include as much detail in the 

Mr. Deters talked about public participation and said if you allow for public participation - you 
create a public forum. You can have a time and place restrictions though you can’t regulate their 
content that is shared.     You  can  regulate  it  if  it  involves students or  personnel.  You  
could  refer  it  to  a non-public meeting.   You don’t have to allow the message to be delivered 
over and over.

Mr.   Deters   said   emails   are   public   records   depending   on   their   content.     If   
it   documents   the organization, function, policies, decisions, procedures, operations or other 
activities of the office, it is a public  record.   If  it  documents  public  activities,  then  
it  is  a  record.  It  is  a  public  record  if  it  is  not specifically  excluded  by  law.  A  
public  record  could  be  on  social  media  if  it  is  documenting  an organization’s  policy  
or  decisions.  He  said  phone  records,  voicemails,  and  text  messages  are  public records.

Mrs. Stone asked what if you see misinformation on social media?   Mr. Deters said he advises to 
not say anything. He said that is hard to do. He said it is best not to show specifics on social 
media. You may refer them to someone. If there is a compelling need, refer them.

Mr. Leeds said if you speak as a Board member, then others think the whole Board is responding. Mr. 
Deters  said as  an elected official you will  be  seen  that  way.   You are  not  speaking  for 
yourself. Mr. Deters explained a situation about a student who was adjudicated, and the family 
moved. Social media followed the student, and now staff in the new district are involved in social 
media about the student.

Mr.  Leeds  asked  what  about  a  phone  call?  Mr.  Deters  said  public  records  require  you  
to  have  a document.  A phone call is not a public record.

If you are involved in litigation, if the attorney  is not  part of the discussion, the  
conversation is not protected.

Mr. Deters said with levies, you could use public funds to explain the levy. You can’t promote the 
levy, but you can explain and describe it.  He advised staff keep a detailed calendar about how 
time is spent so  you  can  prove  you  have  not  used  work  time  to  promote  a  levy.  Text  
messages  are  also  public records, but they may be deleted.  Text messages once deleted are gone.


NOVEMBER 14, 2018

Monroe, Ohio Breaking News
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