A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Tag: Open Public Meetings Act

Appellate Division Affirms Electronic Voting by BOE

On October 30, 2020, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Schwartz v. Princeton Board of Education issued an unpublished decision affirming that a board of education may utilize an electronic voting system so long as all of the other requirements of the Open Public Meetings Act (“OPMA”) are met. In other words, electronic voting by board of education members is not a per se violation of OPMA. Plaintiffs, members of the public, filed a lawsuit against the Princeton Board of Education (“Board”) alleging that its vote on a specific agenda item at its June 12, 2018 public meeting violated OPMA. […]

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Regulations Impose Vast Obligations on Public Bodies Conducting Remote Meetings

By on October 22, 2020 in Open Public Meetings Act with 0 Comments

On September 24, 2020, the Department of Community Affairs, Division of Local Government Services (“DLGS”) issued Local Finance Notice 2020-21 to further explain the new emergency regulations for remote public meetings held during a declared emergency.  The emergency regulations were promulgated by the Director of DLGS in accordance with Section 8 of newly enacted L. 2020, c. 34, and are codified as N.J.A.C. 5:39-1.1. through 1.7.  The emergency regulations aim to ensure continuity of government operations and transparency in conducting public business when an emergency requires a governing body, subject to the Open Public Meetings Act, to hold meetings remotely.  […]

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Additional Guidance on Conducting Remote Board Meetings

About two weeks ago, we addressed the issue of how boards of education could conduct their school board meetings electronically and still comply with the Open Public Meetings Act (“OPMA”) when there is a severe restriction on public gatherings due to the coronavirus health crisis. Fortunately, the Division of Local Government Services (“DLGS”) recently provided additional guidance on this issue. DLGS emphasized that telephonic or virtual public meetings without a physical meeting place should be utilized for the foreseeable future in light of the Governor’s Executive Order 107. Virtual meeting options include streaming and/or online meeting platforms, such as Google […]

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Holding Board Meetings Electronically During the Coronavirus Pandemic

By on March 17, 2020 in Open Public Meetings Act with 0 Comments

Despite severe restrictions placed on public gatherings, school boards must meet during the coronavirus pandemic to address critical business, including convening a public hearing on the budget. The solution, holding a public meeting electronically, is supported by recent guidance from the Division of Local Government Services (“DLGS”). The Open Public Meetings Act (N.J.S.A. 10:4-8(b)) permits public meetings to be held in person or by means of communication equipment.  DLGS guidance provides that communications equipment includes streaming services and other online meeting platforms. Notice of a meeting held by electronic equipment must be properly noticed.  Similarly, the board must provide a […]

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Appellate Division Affirms OPMA Does Not Require BOE to Discuss Proposed Employment Action Prior to Voting

On May 17, 2019, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Centrella v. Prospect Park Board of Education issued an unpublished decision confirming that, under the Open Public Meetings Act (“OPMA”), a board of education is not required to discuss a proposed employment action prior to actually voting on that action. This case involved a former Prospect Park Board of Education (“Board”) employee’s appeal under the OPMA in which she alleged that the Board improperly eliminated her position of speech language specialist and terminated her tenured position when the Board did not discuss the proposed action at the same meeting in […]

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Resolution Survives Despite Absence of Advance Public Notice

By on August 14, 2018 in Open Public Meetings Act with 0 Comments

By: Robert A. Muccilli, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. Public bodies have flexibility when an action item presents itself at a meeting where the public was not given advance notice of the matter provided the body is not deceiving the public or intentionally omitting an item it knew would be acted upon. In Jeffrey S. Feld, Esq. v. City of Orange Township et al., the plaintiff alleged that the City of Orange Township violated the Open Public Meetings Act (“OPMA”) by passing a resolution settling outstanding water and sewer bills. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the City failed to […]

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N.J. Supreme Court Reverses Blanket Rice Notice Requirement for Personnel Actions at Public Meetings

By: Cameron R. Morgan, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. On June 21, 2018, the New Jersey Supreme Court has reversed an Appellate Division ruling that many felt had overly burdened public bodies in the administration of their duties and gone beyond the requirements of the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-6 to -21 (“OPMA”).  Kean Fed’n of Teachers v. Morell, ___ N.J. ___, No. A-84-16 (2018).  Under the seminal decision in Rice v. Union County Reg’l High Sch. Bd. of Educ., 155 N.J. Super. 64, 73 (App. Div. 1977), public bodies seeking to invoke the OPMA exception allowing them […]

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Appellate Division Further Defines “Promptly Available” Meeting Minutes under OPMA

By on February 21, 2017 in Open Public Meetings Act with 0 Comments

Last week, we reviewed the New Jersey Appellate Division’s ruling in Kean Federation of Teachers v. Board of Trustees of Kean University, which changes a public entity’s obligations regarding Rice notices sent to its employees. You can read last week’s post here. This week, we will examine the Appellate Division’s other decision in the Kean case regarding a public body’s duty under the Open Public Meetings Act (“OPMA”), N.J.S.A. 10:4-6 et seq., to make meeting minutes promptly available. While the OPMA itself does not establish a specific time period for the “promptly available” standard, the Appellate Division found that the […]

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To Rice or Not to Rice? A Lesson from the Appellate Division

By on February 15, 2017 in Open Public Meetings Act with 0 Comments

*Please note that the case discussed in this article has been reversed by the New Jersey Supreme Court on June 21, 2018 in Kean Fed’n of Teachers v. Morrell, ___ N.J. ___, A-84-16 (2018).* In a published decision released on February 8, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued an important ruling regarding a public entity’s obligations regarding Rice notices provided to its employees. In Kean Federation of Teachers v. Board of Trustees of Kean University, the Appellate Division determined that a public body is required to provide a Rice notice to any employee whose name appears on the agenda regarding […]

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