The Ottawa Hills Board of Education adopted a resolution Tuesday (April 14) allowing it to meet "virtually" during the COVID-19 crisis. The board’s vote maintains its obligations as a "public body" to meet in open session while also complying with Ohio's stay-at-home order and declaration of a statewide emergency (March 22 and March 9, respectively).
In order to vote, the board had to actually meet in person. Three members were present: Rob Gnepper, Maara Fink, and Corey Hupp. (They observed the six-foot social-distancing requirements during the brief meeting).
The new policy takes effect starting with the Tuesday, April 21, regular board meeting. That meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. The public can view the meeting live here.
During this period of virtual meetings, the board will continue to receive and hear public comments. Those comments, however, need to be submitted electronically to Treasurer Brad Browne 24 hours prior to the meeting. For Tuesday's meeting, he must receive emailed comments by 4:30 p.m. Monday, April 20. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boards of education across Ohio are adopting similar resolutions, following guidance in a bill passed March 25 by the Ohio General Assembly. The new law states that during the COVID-19 crisis, “members of a public body may hold and attend meetings and may conduct and attend hearings by means of teleconference, video conference, or any other similar electronic technology.”
To be compliant with the law, the public body shall:
“provide the public access to a meeting held under this section, and to any hearing held under this section that the public would otherwise be entitled to attend, commensurate with the method in which the meeting or hearing is being conducted, including, but not limited to, examples such as live-streaming by means of the internet, local radio, television, cable, or public access channels, call in information for a teleconference, or by means of any other similar electronic technology. The public body shall ensure that the public can observe and hear the discussions and deliberations of all the members of the public body, whether the member is participating in person or electronically.”