School Bells: How do open meetings laws work?

School Bells: How do open meetings laws work?

How do open meetings laws affect school board operations?


Wisconsin’s Open Meetings Laws are the cornerstone of transparency into school board

operations. Every meeting of the board falls under these laws, and every meeting must be

preceded by public notice and begin with an “open session” that the public can observe.


Common meetings of the board include:

• Monthly business meetings

• Monthly committee of the whole meetings

• Meetings of committees convened at the direction of the board

• The annual budget hearing

• Specially called meetings of the board


State law defines “meetings” very broadly as the convening of more than half of the board (known

as a quorum) to engage in board business, be it discussion, decision or information-gathering.

Chance gatherings of members of the board, such as at a school concert or football game, do not

fall under this definition. However, school board members take great care not to discuss school

business when these chance gatherings occur to keep fully compliant with the law.


There are some limited instances where parts of meetings are closed to the public, and that will

be the topic of a future School Bells. However, the vast majority of meetings of the school board

are open to the public, and the public is always welcome. Attending meetings is an important part

of keeping informed about what is happening in your district!


Do you have a question on board operations? Email LINK and we may use it for a future School


--PCSD Board of Education