Minnesota school boards may hold a meeting by interactive technology or by conference call if certain conditions are met. It is up to the local school board to determine whether the conditions are met.
On Friday, March 13, Gov. Walz issued Executive Order 20-01, which declared a peacetime state of emergency pursuant to his powers under Minnesota Statutes Chapter 12: Emergency Management. This step allows school boards to meet by conference call or other electronic means under Minnesota Statutes 13D.021.
The following conditions must be met for the board to meet by conference call:
1. The “presiding officer, chief legal counsel, or chief administrative officer” of the school board “determines that an in-person meeting…is not practical or prudent because of a health pandemic or an officially-declared emergency”;
2. All school board members can hear one another and hear all discussion;
3. The public present at the regular meeting location can hear all discussion and all votes, unless attendance at the regular meeting location is not feasible due to the health pandemic or emergency declaration;
4. At least one member of the school board, chief legal counsel, or chief administrative officer is physically present at the regular meeting location, unless unfeasible due to the health pandemic or emergency declaration; and
5. All votes are recorded by roll call (Minnesota Statutes 13D.021).
Note that items three and four have a disclaimer for a health pandemic.
The school board must provide notice for a teleconference call meeting as is required for special meetings under Minnesota Statutes 13D.04. This requires a three day posting of the meeting.
Converting Meetings to teleconference: In lieu of making a special posting to teleconference for each regular meeting during the health pandemic, a school board can take action to convert all future regular meetings to a teleconference format. The motion would read, "Due to the declared health pandemic and the declared state of emergency and pursuant to Minnesota Statute 13D.021, until further notice, all school board meetings will be held by teleconference or other electronic means." Taking this action does not inhibit school board members from personally attending a school board meeting, it just provides notice that some or all of the school board members may be participating in the meeting from a remote location. M.S. 13D.021 does not require that a physical location for each school board member be posted.
Minnesota Statute 13D.021, Subd. 3., provides for the public to monitor a board meeting remotely to the extent practical. School districts should make allowance for this if they have the tools to do so.