Authored Articles & Publications Mar 19, 2015

Two California School Districts Do the Right Thing and Avoid Brown Act Violations by Rescheduling Meetings

By Victoria Hester

Two Santa Ynez Valley school districts recently postponed their monthly board meetings after it was discovered that both districts failed to post their meeting agendas online 72 hours in advance, as required by the Brown Act.

The Brown Act, California’s open meeting law, requires that an agenda be posted 72 hours prior to a legislative body’s regular meeting. Section 54954.2(a) specifically requires that if a legislative body has a website, the agenda must be posted there. Neither district had an agenda posted online at 3:30 p.m. on March 9, approximately 24 hours before the meetings scheduled for the next day.

Santa Ynez Union High School District decided to postpone the meeting after discovering the mistake, and plans to repost the agenda and reschedule the meeting. The high school district stated that the failure to post online was a clerical error, and that the physical agendas were posted by March 5.

The Santa Ynez College District originally planned to go forward with the meeting, characterizing the agenda slip-up as a “technical mistake.” Officials later confirmed that it was out of compliance with the Brown Act, and cancelled the meeting three hours before it was schedule to start, thus avoiding a violation. College District Superintendent James Brown explained that officials made the decision to cancel because “[i]t would have otherwise been an improper meeting.”

These school districts acted properly by postponing the meetings once the Brown Act lapses were discovered. Adhering to agenda requirements is a vital part of Brown Act compliance. If a local agency has a website, the agenda must be posted there at least 72 hours in advance of a regular meeting. The Brown Act requires this website posting in addition to posting “in a location freely accessible to the public.”

Note: This article originally appeared on the now-defunct BBKnowledge blog, where Best Best & Krieger authors shared their knowledge on emerging issues in public agency law.

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