School Leadership Teams (SLTs) and Citywide/Community Education Councils (CCECs) are essential elements of our educational governance structure and ensure collaborative decision- making in school-level and district-level policy. The guidance below explains how SLT and CCEC meetings can be conducted in accordance with NYS Open Meetings Law (OML).
Deciding How to Meet – In-Person or Hybrid?
On April 9, 2022, Governor Hochul signed into Law Chapter 56 of the Laws of 2022, making permanent the expanded use of videoconferencing by public bodies to conduct open meetings under “extraordinary circumstances,” provided that a quorum of members are present in the same or multiple physical locations open to the public. On May 3, 2023, Governor Hochul signed into Law Chapter 58 of the Laws of 2023, providing for the exemption from certain in-person requirements (and count towards quorum) of certain individuals with disabilities. The law expires on July 1, 2024.
Accordingly, SLTs and CCECs may hold meetings fully in-person or in a “hybrid” format. Public meetings cannot be held completely virtual.
The following requirements must also be met:
- Each public body that wishes to allow for remote attendance must adopt a joint resolution and establish written procedures for what constitutes an “extraordinary circumstance” allowing for a member to attend virtually (i.e. disability, illness, caregiving responsibilities, etc.)
- A quorum must be met at an in-person location (or locations) open to the public no matter the format of the meeting
- Any public body utilizing teleconferencing must allow for members of the public to view meetings and participate in real time during public comment portions.
- All applicable notice requirements must be satisfied
We recommend that SLTs and CCECs discuss the technical challenges and engagement possibilities of each meeting format. Given that the new law expires on July 11, 2024, we recommend that the decision be made through a motion rather than an amendment to the bylaws, which would take a minimum of two monthly meetings to implement. For CCECs, the motion must be approved by a vote of 7 (6 for CCSE, CCELL, and CCD75); for SLTs, approval would be by consensus.
Meeting Format Considerations
- CCECs/SLTs should consider barriers to the public’s participation in fully in-person or “hybrid” meetings.
- Will all public meetings be held in the same format (e.g., monthly calendar meeting, business meeting, special meeting, committee meeting, etc.), or will some meetings be fully in-person while others hybrid?
- CCEC/SLT should consider whether they have the equipment or technical skills needed to successfully run a “hybrid” meeting?
Notice for Meetings
SLTs and CECs must continue to provide the public with advanced notice of meetings (see timelines below). This should be done using all communication channels possible – websites, social media, flyers, emails, etc. For hybrid meetings the notice must include the following:
- physical location(s) of the meeting
- If conducting a hybrid meeting, the meeting link for virtual participation by the public, for CCEC meetings (SLT meetings are not required to allow public comment/speaking)
- A statement that the public has the right to attend the meeting at any of the locations.
SLT Best Practices
The SLT’s chairperson should continue to chair the SLT, and the secretary should continue to provide notice of these meetings consistent with Open Meetings Law requirements, including the need for a physical meeting location that is accessible and open to the public. If the SLT chooses to conduct “hybrid” meetings, they should work with the school’s principal to identify a DOE-approved virtual platform (see guidance for NYCDOE Videoconferencing) that will allow all members to meet and also provide an opportunity for the school community and the public to view and/or listen to the meeting.
The SLT’s by-laws regarding the time and date of the meeting still apply. In general, SLTs should seek to ensure that all members of the SLT are able to attend the meeting and that notice of the date and time of any SLT meeting has been made public 10 days before the meeting.
- While a public comment period is not required, SLT meetings are an opportunity to hear from members of the school community.
- Agenda should be emailed to all SLT members and posted on the school’s public website before the meeting.
- Any virtual platform must have the ability to allow SLT members to speak or provide written comment through a moderated chat. (See guidance for NYCDOE Videoconferencing.)
- The chair, or designated meeting facilitator, should announce the meeting norms at the beginning of the meeting and periodically throughout. (For example, speaking order will be established).
- The chair, or designated meeting facilitator, should endeavor to ensure that all members have the opportunity to speak and be heard during the meeting.
- If the meeting includes teleconferencing, the meeting should be recorded and transcribed by the tele- or video- conferencing application and shared with the membership as soon as possible. If the conferencing application does not offer transcription, a transcript will need to be created.
- SLTs must continue to make decisions through consensus.
- The Principal must ensure that members are provisioned to view their school’s CEP through iPlan.
- SLT members are eligible for annual remuneration of $300 if they complete 30 hours of service on the SLT and attend a mandatory training session relating to CEPs and budget issues each year. Service includes attendance at remote meetings. SLT members who attend the training but serve fewer than 30 hours may request remuneration on a pro-rata basis.
- No permission is required to record the meeting. As a matter of courtesy, the host should inform the participants that the meeting is being recorded when announcing the ground rules. Bylaws should be available in case questions arise. If the SLT’s own bylaws cannot be found, the Bylaws Template may be used but only as a guide—a template is not a controlling document for any organization.
Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR) generally govern how meetings are conducted, particularly with respect to motions, speaking rules, and minutes. A searchable version of Robert’s Rules(Open external link) is available with answers to many questions on the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions), interpretation, and forum sections.
CEC Capital Planning School Visits
Education Councils have important responsibilities that require school visits. CEC members need access to schools to assess the condition of the facilities so that they can recommend capital improvements. School visits should promote collaboration, understanding, and partnership with families and the community. The procedure through which Education Council members request school visits is governed by Section I of Chancellor's Regulation D-130.
CEC official school visits related to the capital planning process should take place from October to December, and can be held in-person, provided that the visit does not interfere with instruction and that CEC member(s) are in compliance with DOE’s visitor policy. Official visits by CEC members may be held virtually via video conference, upon request to the Principal from the CEC. If an Education Council member contacts a principal or superintendent to request an official visit, it is important that a mutually agreed upon scheduled time is reached in advance of the proposed visit. If the Education Council member only reaches out to a principal, the principal must notify the Superintendent, and Family Leadership Coordinator (FLC), that a request has been granted.
CEC School Visits as the SLT Liaison
CECs are responsible for assessing the effect of the district’s educational programs on student achievement, evaluating the superintendent, and liaising with SLTs, all which require contact and access to the district schools. While CEC members can attend SLTs as members of the public, if a CEC member wants to attend as the SLT liaison, a request to the principals or superintendent must be made in advance. If the SLT meeting is being held in a “hybrid” format, the CEC member may attend in-person, provided that they are in compliance with DOE’s visitor policy, including the vaccination requirement.