School boards and the governing bodies of community colleges and other public entities in Pennsylvania will soon be required to publish a detailed agenda at least 24 hours in advance of a public meeting that outlines the issues expected to be deliberated.
This new requirement – part of a set of amendments to the Sunshine Act – was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf on June 30, 2021 and becomes effective August 29, 2021.
Notably, the law applies to any meeting where deliberation is expected over an issue – even if there is no vote – including typical committee meetings. But it does not include official executive sessions or conferences that are not required to be open meetings under the Sunshine Act.
The amended law requires that the Board:
- make detailed public meeting agendas available 24 hours prior to a meeting
- post the meeting agenda with a list of each matter of agency business that will be the subject of deliberation or official action not later than 24 hours in advance of the meeting
- post the meeting agenda at both the meeting location and the Board’s main office
- provide copies of the meeting agenda to individuals in attendance
The amended Sunshine Act also prohibits the board or governing body from taking official action on a matter of business at a meeting if the matter was not included in the required notification, except under the following circumstances:
- it relates to an emergency involving a clear and present danger to life or property
- it is de minimis in nature and does not involve the expenditure of funds or entering into a contract or agreement
- it is brought to the attention of the board at a meeting and the action involves referring the matter to staff for further research
- it is added to the agenda by a majority vote of the individuals present and voting at the meeting, and the reason for the added item is announced before the vote
For matters added to an agenda by a majority vote, the Board may then take official action on the matter provided that it posts the amended agenda on its website and at its main office no later than the first business day following the meeting at which the agenda was changed.
School boards are advised to immediately review and amend their procedures to comply with all changes to the Sunshine Law.