School board may discuss filling vacancy in closed-door meeting
PENNSYLVANIA — School board discussions about filling a vacant board position may be conducted behind closed doors, the Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg ruled in late July.
The court rejected arguments by the (Carlisle) Sentinel and the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publishers’ Association that the board’s actions violated the state Sunshine Act.
The newspaper and association argued that deliberations about the process to fill the vacancy and about the qualifications of applicants were improperly conducted during the school board’s executive session.
The court held that the Sunshine Act permitted closed meetings to discuss the “appointment” of a public employee. “The Sunshine Act does not require all agency meetings to be open,” the court said.
The final vote, which confirmed the appointment of Arland Wagonhurst to the school board, was conducted at an open meeting.
(Cumberland Publishers, Inc. v. Carlisle Area Bd. of Sch. Dirs.; Media Counsel: Allen Warshaw, Philadelphia)