A new law passed by the Indiana General Assembly that went into effect on July 1, House Bill 1130 and Senate Bill 83, requires school boards to permit oral public commentary during their meetings. This oral commentary period is required before a school board takes final action on a topic. This law will apply to all public schools and charter schools. This required public comment period also extends to electronic meetings that may be necessary due to extenuating circumstances (e.g., a pandemic).
Additionally, the law restricts the conditions under which a virtual meeting can be held during a declared disaster emergency without any of the governing body members physically present. A governing body (such as a school board) can only hold a public meeting with no governing body members physically present, if: (1) a state or local disaster emergency is declared, (2) a meeting would present an imminent risk to the health or safety of the governing body and public, and (3) in the case of a school governing body, at least one school within the school’s jurisdiction must be closed because of the disaster emergency. The law also adds the definition of a virtual charter school to the Indiana Access to Public Records Act (APRA). The APRA provides that a person has a right to access information regarding the government, and official acts of public officials and employees.
The bill is part of the assembly’s continued efforts to provide more transparency and due process, on behalf of the public, to taxpayer funded agencies. To advance these efforts, the bill provides taxpayers with more information and input surrounding final agency decisions. Many of these public concerns originated from decisions that were made by school boards during the pandemic, sometimes without a public oral comment period.
With the passage of this law much of the public criticism surrounding the supposed lack of due process surrounding school board decisions should be curtailed. If you have questions or concerns about how this new law may impact you, contact the attorneys at McNeelyLaw today.
This McNeely Law LLP publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion of any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general information purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.