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REG - 01.04.7 - Open Meetings Regulation

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Authority: Chancellor
Responsible Office Legal Affairs
History: Effective Date: August 2, 2018
Related Links:
Contact: Office of Legal Affairs, 919-530-6105, ncculegalaffairs@nccu.edu

1. Introduction

As a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina and an agency of the State of North Carolina, North Carolina Central University (“NCCU”) is required to comply with the North Carolina Open Meetings Law. The purpose of this regulation is to outline the requirements of the law and to help public bodies of NCCU remain in compliance with the laws governing open meetings.

2. Scope

Official meetings of public bodies of North Carolina Central University are generally required to be open to public attendance. This regulation sets forth the requirements of the Open Meeting Law, the procedures for providing public notice of such meetings, and the public’s participations in such meetings.

3. Definitions

3.1 Public Body: A “public body" is any elected or appointed authority, board, commission, committee, council, or other body of the University, that: (1) is composed of two or more members, and (2) exercises or is authorized to exercise a legislative, policy-making, quasi-judicial, administrative, or advisory function.

3.1.1 The following groups at NCCU are considered public bodies:

3.1.1.1 Groups established by or at the direction of the Chancellor and/or a Vice Chancellor if all of the following characteristics apply:

3.1.1.1.1 The membership does not consist exclusively of administrative officers of the university;

3.1.1.1.2 It is composed of two or more members;

3.1.1.1.3 Its designated function or subject-matter jurisdiction is University-wide; and

3.1.1.1.4 It is expressly authorized or directed to: (1) legislate, make policy, adjudicate, or take administrative action; or (2) to make findings concerning or to recommend legislative, policy-making, quasi-judicial, or administrative action; or (3) otherwise serves in an advisory function.

3.1.1.2 The NCCU Board of Trustees and its committees.

3.2 Official Meetings: An official meeting occurs at any time or place where a majority of the public body is communicating, and the communication is for the purpose of conducting hearings, deliberations, voting, or otherwise transacting business within the scope of the committee’s jurisdiction or charge. Official meetings may also be conducted in person, by conference call, video conference, or other electronic means. Informal gatherings may not be used as a method of evading this regulation.

3.3 Regular Meetings: A regular meeting is a regularly scheduled meeting of a public body and occurs when the public body maintains a list of pre-scheduled meetings.

3.4 Recess Meeting: A recess meeting occurs when the public body recesses during an official meeting to resume at a later time.

3.5 Emergency Meetings: An emergency meeting occurs when the public body meets on less than forty-eight (48) hours notice due to unexpected circumstances that require immediate consideration by the public body. Only business connected with the emergency may be conducted at an emergency meeting.

3.6 Special Meetings: A special meeting is any meeting that is not a regular meeting, recess meeting or emergency meeting.

4. Notice

4.1 Notice is required for all public meetings. The Open Meetings Law contains detailed procedures that public bodies must follow to give the public advanced notice of their official meetings. Requirements for notice differ depending on the type of meeting being conducted.

4.1.1 Regular Meetings Notice of a regular meeting consists of: (1) maintaining a list of pre-scheduled meetings showing the time and place of each regular meeting; (2) posting the regular meeting schedule on the appropriate university’s website; and (3) if a revision is made to the regular meeting schedule, the revision must be completed at least seven (7) days before the rescheduled regular meeting.

4.1.2 Recess Meeting: Notice of a recess meeting consists of: (1) adopting a motion for recess in a meeting’s open session; (2) announcing the time and place of the recess meeting in a meeting’s open session; and (3) posting notice of the recess meeting on the appropriate university’s website.

4.1.3 Emergency Meeting: Notice of an emergency meeting consists of: 1) provision of notice to local media outlets that have filed a written request; (2) immediately after the notice of the emergency meeting was given to the public body members; and (3) by email, telephone or the same method used to notify the members of the public body.

4.1.4 Special Meeting: Notice of a special meeting consists of: (1) posting notice on the main bulletin board of the building where the special meeting is held, or, if a bulletin board does not exist, on the door of the meeting room, which notice states the time, place and purpose of the special meeting; or (2) posting notice of the special meeting on the appropriate university’s website; and (3) providing notice at least forty-eight (48) hours prior to the special meeting.

4.2 The Assistant Secretary of the NCCU Board of Trustees and the chair or other principal officer of all other NCCU public bodies (hereinafter “responsible officer”) is responsible for giving notice of all regular meetings of the public bodies they represent to the NCCU Office of Communications and Marketing as provided below:

4.2.1 The responsible officer shall keep on file a schedule showing the date, time, and place of regular meetings of the public body he or she represents. If the public body modifies its schedule of regular meetings, the responsible officer shall update appropriate files at least seven (7) calendar days before the first meeting to which the new schedule applies. Additionally, the responsible officer must notify the NCCU Office of Communications and Marketing on the same day any modifications to the schedule are made.

4.2.2 Upon receipt of the regular schedule, revised schedule, or notice of special or emergency meeting from the responsible officer, the Office of Communications and Marketing will then provide appropriate notice of all meetings to the public.

4.2.3 Upon written request for notice of meetings from a newspaper, wire service, radio or television station, or any person other than a representative of the media, the Office of Communications and Marketing shall, at least forty-eight (48) hours before the scheduled time of a special meeting, as defined above, give notice stating the purpose of the meeting by: (1) disseminating such information through emails and bulletin boards; and (2) mailing or delivering written notice to all parties who have requested such notice.

4.2.4 A newspaper, radio or television station, or wire service that requests notice of meetings shall not be charged for such notice, but may be required to renew notice requests annually. A person other than a representative of the media who requests notice shall be charged Ten Dollars ($10) per year and may be required to renew notice requests quarterly.

4.2.5 For an emergency meeting, the Office of Communications and Marketing shall notify each newspaper, wire service, radio station, or television station that has requested notice, either by telephone or in the same way members of the public body are notified, immediately after notice has been given to the members of the public body, at the expense of the party notified. Persons other than news media shall not receive notice of emergency meetings.

4.2.6 If a public body holds a meeting by conference call or other electronic means, the notice must provide a location and means for members of the public to listen to the meeting.

5. Minutes and Accounts

Every public body is required to keep full and accurate minutes of all official meetings (including closed sessions). Such minutes may be in written form or, at the option of the public body, may be in the form of sound or video recordings. When a public body meets in closed session, it shall keep a general account of the closed session so that a person not in attendance would have a reasonable understanding of what transpired. Minutes of legitimate closed sessions are public records, but they may be withheld from public inspection if public inspection would frustrate the purpose of the closed session. The minutes of open sessions and accounts of closed sessions may be in written form or video and/or audio recordings.  

6. Public Participation

6.1 Any person and or media have the right to attend an official meeting of public bodies of NCCU. However, the Open Meetings Law does not give members of the public the automatic right to speak or participate in an official meeting. If a person interrupts, disturbs, or disrupts an open meeting, the presiding officer may direct that person to leave the meeting. In the event that the disruptive person refuses to leave, he/she may be subject to criminal liability pursuant to N.C. General Statute §143-318.17.

6.2 Any public member in attendance may photograph, film, tape-record, or otherwise reproduce any part of an official meeting required to be open. Radio and television stations are entitled to broadcast all or any part of an official meeting required to be open.

7. Failure to Comply

If any public body of the University fails to comply with the laws pertaining to official meetings, a court may declare actions taken during the meeting to be null and void. In addition, the court may award attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party when a meeting is successfully challenged in court and direct members of the public body to pay such fees personally in the event of an intentional violation.

8. Closed Sessions

8.1 The Open Meetings Law governing this regulation provides that a public body may hold a closed session during one of its official meetings only when a closed session is required to prevent public disclosure of the following types of information:

8.1.1 To discuss information privileged or confidential pursuant to state or federal law;

8.1.2 To discuss honorary degrees, scholarships, or prizes and awards;

8.1.3 To consult with an attorney and to preserve the attorney-client privilege;

8.1.4 To discuss the location or expansion of businesses (including agreement on a tentative list of economic development incentives that may be offered by the public body in negotiations);

8.1.5 To discuss real property acquisition (other than by gift or bequest) and employment contracts;

8.1.6 To discuss personnel matters; and

8.1.7 To discuss alleged criminal misconduct.

8.2 A public body may hold a closed session only if it first begins an open official meeting after proper public notice. During the open part of the official meeting, the public body must make and adopt a motion to hold a closed session. In making the motion to hold a closed session, the public body must state which of the legally acceptable purposes it is relying upon to justify the closed session.

8.3 At the conclusion of the closed session, a motion to go back into open session must be made prior to adjourning the meeting. A motion to adjourn is invalid if it is made in closed session.