On March 12, the Division of Local Government Services in the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs issued a memo confirming that boards may use technology in convening a public meeting, but must have an advertised location for the meeting, and must provide guidance to the public regarding remote access and public comment at such meetings. If a board currently records the audio or video of its meetings, it is recommended that it continue to do so.
The memo discourages adjourning to executive or closed session during a remote access meeting unless the subject is urgent, directly affects the health, safety or welfare of residents, and is a listed exemption to the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA), due to the difficulty of ensuring the confidentiality of such remote-access deliberations. The memo also notes that if an executive session is necessary, boards can use a mechanism that ensures confidentiality and may even consider using a separate non-public dial-in mechanism after announcing the adjournment of the open session of the meeting.
On March 17, the New Jersey Department of Education released a 15-page FAQ, which addressed options available under the OPMA for conducting meetings. An article on the FAQ is in today’s School Board Notes here.
The New Jersey School Boards Association’s Legal and Labor Relations Services Department has issued a detailed memo on this topic; it is online here.
Emergency Meetings The guidance from NJSBA also discusses the permissible use of technology in meetings that are called on an emergency basis, as well as the procedures for calling such a meeting in accordance with N.J.S.A. 10:4-9.
NJSBA’s COVID-19 Resource Center webpage is providing information and guidance on a range of matters of importance to school districts during the coronavirus pandemic. The page is regularly updated.