February 6, 2006
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your correspondence.
I have received your letter of January 3 in which you "register[ed] a complaint pertaining to the Open Meetings Law, specifically the posting requirements, against the Board of Education for the City of Tonawanda School District."
According to your letter, the Board held "an unscheduled special meeting" on November 29. Although the President of the Board indicated that "the meeting notification was sent to the local paper"and posted on the District website, notice was not posted at the site of the meeting or at any other school building.
In this regard,§104 of the Open Meetings Law pertains to notice of meetings of public bodies and states that:
"1. Public notice of the time and place of a meeting scheduled at least one week prior thereto shall be given to the news media and shall be conspicuously posted in one or more designated public locations at least seventy-two hours before such meeting.
2. Public notice of the time and place of every other meeting shall be given to the extent practicable, to the news media and shall be conspicuously posted in one or more designated public locations at a reasonable time prior thereto.
3. The public notice provided for by this section shall not be construed to require publication as a legal notice.
4. If videoconferencing is used to conduct a meeting, the public notice for the meeting shall inform the public that videoconferencing will be used, identify the locations for the meeting, and state that the public has the right to attend the meeting at any of the locations."
The term "designated" in my opinion involves a requirement that a public body, by resolution or through the adoption of policy or a directive, must select one or more specific locations where notice of meetings will consistently and regularly be posted. Additionally, for notice to be "conspicuously" posted, I believe that it must be posted at a location or locations where those who may be interested in attending meetings have a reasonable opportunity to see the notice. If, for instance, a bulletin board located at the entrance of a school district’s high school or administrative offices has been designated as a location for posting notices of meetings, the public has the ability to know where to ascertain whether and when meetings of a school board will be held.
While posting a notice on a website is, in my view, fully appropriate and positive, based on the language of the law, again, "posting" would involve the placement of notice of the time and place of meetings at a particular location or locations.
I hope that I have been of assistance.
Robert J. Freeman
cc: Board of Education