Electronic Participation in School Board Meetings FAQ

This FAQ is intended to provide guidance on conducting virtual school board meetings during the current coronavirus pandemic. This FAQ is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Specific questions should be referred to the school district’s legal counsel.

Q: Are there any changes to CASB sample school board policies as a result of HB20-1301?

A: Yes. CASB sample board policy BEAA has been updated to reflect that a board member who participates in a meeting electronically now counts toward the quorum requirement to convene a meeting and includes the requirement that the board have a procedure in place to ensure that a board member who participates in a meeting electronically must have real-time access to the same materials presented during the meeting.

CASB sample exhibit BEDA-E (PDF and Word) provides meeting notice language referencing current executive and public health orders.

CASB also has a sample resolution to grant emergency powers (PDF and Word) to a superintendent to address the COVID-19 emergency.

Q: Does this mean an entire school board can participate in a meeting electronically?

A: Due to current circumstances, yes. Although the bill was passed quickly in response to the coronavirus, and was not drafted with this situation in mind, current realities allow boards to conduct work virtually. Boards are still required to have technology in place that will ensure that members of the public can hear the comments made by board members who are attending the meeting electronically and that board members can hear comments made by the public and, now, that all board members have real-time access to the same materials presented during a meeting.

Q: How can school boards adopt a policy to allow electronic participation in meetings?

A: CASB sample policy BG, School Board Policy Process, provides that, “[u]nder unusual circumstances, the Board may temporarily approve a policy to meet emergency conditions. However, the [procedure outlined in the policy on how to adopt a policy] is required before the policy shall be considered permanent.” CASB believes this provision allows boards to quickly and efficiently react to these evolving circumstances by adopting a policy allowing electronic participation in board meetings without having to hold multiple meetings to do so.

CASB sample policy BG also includes language allowing boards to temporarily suspend, by a majority vote of board members present at any regular or special meeting, the operation of any board policy, including those governing its own operating procedures, in the event of special circumstances.

Q: Does a school board need a physical quorum in order to revise board policy in line with HB20-1301’s changes?

A: Due to current circumstances, CASB believes that a board does not need a physical quorum in order to hold a meeting to pass a resolution or revise board policy in line with HB20-1301’s changes; a quorum of board members who are participating electronically is sufficient at this time. Notice for virtual meetings may reference the governor's March 18, 2020 executive order suspending in-person learning in public and private schools across the state from March 23 to April 17, as well as the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's March 18, 2020 public health order limiting community/civic/public gatherings to no more than 10 people, to provide transparency and communicate the reasoning behind the board's actions under current circumstances.

CASB sample exhibit BEDA-E (PDF and Word) includes language stating that, due to current executive and public health orders, a board will meet virtually until further notice.

Q: How can a school board hold a meeting while complying with social distancing/large community events recommendations and restrictions?

A: Holding a board meeting that complies with Colorado's Open Meetings Law as well as recommendations or restrictions on social distancing and large community events is a balancing act that presents several limitations and challenges as relates to ensuring public access to the meeting.

Although HB20-1301 allows increased electronic participation for board members, boards will still need to ensure that the public has access to the meeting. During a virtual board meeting, the public must be able to hear the comments being made and vice versa. This could be accomplished in different ways, such as if the meeting is held telephonically, audio from the teleconference could be made available to the public on the district's website or the public could be provided a number to dial in to listen.

Boards may also consider alternative methods of public comment, such as having community members submit questions/comments via email before a meeting. The key will be to provide as much public notice as far in advance as possible and to communicate any changes and new procedures. Boards should consult with their own legal counsel and local health departments to determine how best to proceed under their specific circumstances.

Q: What types of platforms are available for boards to use to hold a virtual meeting?

A: Boards might consider using Zoom, Google Meet, conference call, Community by Diligent (a BoardDocs related product) and/or Facebook Live. This document produced by the Kansas State Department of Education — Kansas Guidelines for Continuous Learning — provides helpful resources, including technology platforms that could be utilized for electronic participation in school board meetings, on pages 53-54.