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Trustee Support Resources

Exceptions to Public Meetings

What constitutes an executive session?
A library board may hold an executive session solely for an announced purpose or it may call an executive session during a regular or special meeting. Executive sessions may not be called to avoid public discussion of "hot" topics. Discussion of personnel matters, in general, in not an authorized purpose for holding an executive session. The only topics that may be addressed in an executive session are precisely defined by RCW 42.30.110(1), and include the following:
  • Matters affecting national security;
  • Real estate –
    • To consider site selection or the acquisition of real estate by lease or purchase when public knowledge would likely result in an increased price;
    • To consider the minimum price at which real estate will be offered for sale or lease when public knowledge would likely result in a decreased price. However, final action selling or leasing public property shall be taken in a meeting open to the public.
  • Publicly bid contracts –
    • To review negotiations on the performance of publicly bid contracts when public knowledge would likely result in increased costs.
  • Personnel –
    • To receive and evaluate complaints or charges brought against a trustee or employee. Note: The trustee or employee can request that a public hearing or a meeting open to the public be conducted upon such complaint or charge;
    • To evaluate the qualifications of an applicant for public employment or to review the performance of a public employee. However, subject to RCW 42.30.140(4) – collective bargaining sessions with employee organizations, discussion of salaries, wages, and other conditions of employment to be generally applied within the agency; and when a governing body elects to take final action hiring, setting the salary of an individual employee or class of employees, or discharging or disciplining an employee, those actions shall occur in an open public meeting.
  • Litigation –
    • To discuss with library legal counsel litigation or potential litigation to which the library board, or a member acting in an official capacity is, or is likely to become, a party, when public knowledge regarding the discussion is likely to result in an adverse legal or financial consequence to the library.
What is the procedure for calling an executive session?
Before convening in executive session, the presiding officer shall publicly announce the purpose for excluding the public from the meeting place, and the time when the executive session will be concluded. The executive session may be extended to a later time by announcement of the presiding officer. RCW 42.30.110(2)
If the executive session ends earlier than expected, may the regular meeting begin?
No. If the session ends earlier than anticipated, the regular meeting may not be resumed until the time originally scheduled for the meeting.
Who may attend an executive session?
People other than members of the board may be invited to attend if they have some relationship to the matter being addressed, or if they can provide assistance. For example, the library director may attend to present information to the board.