From:   Freeman, Robert (DOS)
Sent:    Wednesday, April 08, 2009 2:18 PM

You described a situation in which the Medina Board of Education, upon which you serve, conducted “an appropriately advertised meeting…to discuss budget proposals.”  The public and the news media were present at the meeting, and near the end of the meeting, the Board voted to adopt a budget proposal and directed staff to prepare the proposal for a public vote in May.  You raised the following question in relation to the foregoing:  “as long as we create minutes of that vote, is the vote valid?”  You indicated that some Board members believe that it “had to title [y]our notice ‘Special Meeting’ in order to be able to vote.”

In this regard, I know of no law that would require the notice preceding the meeting or minutes of the meeting to indicate that the gathering was a “special meeting.”  There is no reference in the Open Meetings Law to special meetings, and although the phrase “special meeting” appears in sections 2005 to 2008 of the Education Law, it does not appear that the event to which you referred was a special meeting as that phrase is described in those provisions. 

In short, as I understand the matter, the action taken is valid, irrespective of the absence of the characterization of the gathering as a special meeting in the notice that preceded the meeting or the minutes of the meeting.

I hope that I have been of assistance and that you and your enjoy the holiday.

Robert J. Freeman
Executive Director
Committee on Open Government
Department of State
One Commerce Plaza
Suite 650
99 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12231
Phone: (518)474-2518
Fax: (518)474-1927