Are the minutes of an executive session subject to the Open Meeting Law?

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Q: Are the minutes of an executive session subject to the Open Meeting Law?

A:
The Open Meeting Law’s requirement that every governmental body maintain accurate minutes of all its meetings applies to executive sessions as well. As with meetings that are open to the public, minutes of executive sessions must include the date, time and place of the meeting, the identity of the members present, and all “action taken.” In addition, the minutes of an executive session require a roll call vote for each vote that is taken.

In recording the minutes of executive sessions, it may be helpful to keep in mind that minutes are meant to serve as a record of what was done at a meeting and not necessarily of all that was said at a meeting.

According to the Open Meeting Law, the minutes of an executive session “may remain secret as long as publication may defeat the lawful purposes of the executive session, but no longer.” Generally, the decision about when to release the minutes of an executive session is up to the members of the board or committee. The Attorney General’s Office recommends, however, that each board or committee adopt a policy requiring that unreleased executive sessions be reviewed on a regular basis. Such a policy will help ensure that closed-session minutes are kept secret only as long as necessary and as authorized under the law.

Source: Open Meeting Law Guidelines, updated by the Attorney General’s office in April 2008