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Less Transparent Government Not an Option for School Boards

Despite news reports to the contrary, school boards are exempt from new rules giving cities, counties and other public agencies permission to ignore California's open-meeting laws.

Although city councils and other elected bodies , school boards do not. San Rafael

It’s been widely reported that a last-minute addition to the state’s 2012-13 budget allows cities and counties to skip Brown Act requirements that they post meeting agendas 72 hours in advance. In addition, the new rules allow local boards and councils to forgo publicly disclosing actions taken during closed-session meetings.

However, school boards and governing bodies for community college districts do not have that option.  

“Obligations under the Brown Act remain fully in effect for school districts and colleges,” according to School Services of California, a consultant hired by school districts throughout the state. “Open meeting and ‘sunshine’ requirements come not only from the Brown Act but also from the education code, the California constitution, board policy and other sources.”

The Legislature gave cities, counties, water boards and other public agencies the ability to opt out of the Brown Act’s requirements because the state no longer reimburses those agencies for the additional costs associated with posting the agendas.

In California, state mandates placed on local jurisdictions must be funded by the state. With Brown Act subsidies running nearly $100 million a year by some estimates, the state decided to suspend the mandates.

Nevertheless, most local agencies in Marin County have said, at least informally, they will continue following the act. Unlike those agencies, school districts still have the ability to seek reimbursement, according to School Services.

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