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January 25, 1972
Honorable Bruce A. Wilson
State Senator, Second District
Olympia, Washington 98504 Cite as: AGLO 1972 No. 7 (not official)
Dear Senator Wilson:
We are in receipt of your recent letter requesting our opinion
". . . as to whether a Board of School Directors may conduct a hearing with respect to expelling a child from school in executive session, under terms of the 1971 open meeting act."
For a general resume' of the provisions of the 1971 open meetings act ‑ chapter 250, Laws of 1971, 1st Ex. Sess., see AGO 1971 No. 33 [[to King Lysen, State Representative on October 29, 1971]], copy enclosed. The two sections of this act to be particularly noted in answering your question are §§ 11 and 14, providing, respectively, as follows:
"Nothing contained in this act shall be construed to prevent a governing body from holding executive sessions during a regular or special meeting to consider matters affecting national security; the selection of a site or the purchase of real estate, when publicity regarding such consideration would cause a likelihood of increased price; the appointment, employment, or dismissal of a public officer or employee; or to hear complaints or charges brought against such officer or employee by another public officer, person, or employee unless such officer or employee requests a public hearing. The governing body also may exclude from any such public meeting or executive session, during the examination of a witness on any such matter, any or all other witnesses in the matter being investigated by the governing body."
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
"If any provision of this 1971 amendatory act conflicts with the provisions of any other statute, the provisions of this 1971 amendatory act shall control: PROVIDED, That this act shall not apply to:
"(1) the proceedings concerned with the formal issuance of an order granting, suspending, revoking, or denying any license, permit, or certificate to engage in any business, occupation or profession or to any disciplinary proceedings involving a member of such business, occupation or profession, or to receive a license for a sports activity or to operate any mechanical device or motor vehicle where a license or registration is necessary; or
"(2) that portion of a meeting of a quasi-judicial body which relates to a quasi-judicial matter between named parties as distinguished from a matter having general effect on the public or on a class or group; or
"(3) matters governed by Title 34 RCW, the administrative procedures act, except as expressly provided in section 17 of this 1971 amendatory act."
It will readily be seen from an examination of the first of these two sections that the dismissal of a child from school, not constituting the dismissal of a public officer or employee from his job with a public agency, does not come within the purview of permissible executive sessions for a board of directors of a school district, as a public agency under the act.
However, turning to the list of specific exemptions from the act's coverage which are contained in § 14, supra, it would be our opinion that such a proceeding as you have described would fall squarely within the exemption set forth in § 14 (2) ‑ i.e.
". . . that portion of a meeting of a quasi-judicial body which relates to a quasi-judicial matter between named parties . . ."
Therefore, in short, it is our opinion that while the dismissal of a child from a public school is not one of those matters which falls among the list of subjects which may be considered by a school board in an executive session, [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] such a board may, nevertheless, handle such matters as this without regard to the various procedural and substantive requirements of the open meetings act for the reason that these matters fall within a specific exemption from the act's applicability.1/
We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Philip H. Austin
Deputy Attorney General
*** FOOTNOTES ***
1/We note, independent of the 1971 Open Meetings Act, the recent adoption of certain regulations by the state board of education with regard to various school district-student relationships. These rules, a copy of which we are also enclosing, will become effective on February 20, 1972. See, in particular, WAC 180-40-140 (2), which will grant to the student who is sought to be expelled an option as to whether to have an open or closed hearing on his case.