As elected public officials, School Committee members shall exercise
caution when communicating between and among themselves via electronic
messaging services including, but not limited to, electronic mail
(email), instant messaging, Internet web forums, and Internet chat
Electronic messaging is a rapid and convenient method of communication,
but School Committee members must use it carefully in order to avoid
conflicts with the Open Meeting Law and the Public Records Law. A
School Committee member’s use of electronic messaging must insure that
the public and the other members of the School Committee can trust that
any deliberative discussions about School Committee business always will
occur at public meetings.
Under the Open Meeting Law, deliberation by a quorum of members
constitutes a meeting. Deliberation is defined as movement toward a
decision including, but not limited to, the sharing of an opinion
regarding business over which the Committee has supervision, control, or
jurisdiction. A quorum may be arrived at sequentially using electronic
messaging without knowledge and intent by the author.
School Committee members should use electronic messaging between and
among members only for housekeeping purposes such as requesting or
communicating agenda items, meeting times, or meeting dates. It may
also be used to schedule meetings, send informative messages, request
information, or send similar communications which are administrative in
nature. Electronic messaging should not be used to discuss Committee
business that requires public discussion under the Open Meeting Law.
Under the Public Records Law, electronic messages by, between, and
among public officials may be considered public records, unless there is
a statutory reason to exempt the record. (MGL 4:7) Electronic messages
about School Committee business sent to anyone by a School Committee
member are considered public documents. School Committee members should
have no expectation that such electronic messages are private.
Similarly, electronic messages on School Committee business sent by the
public to a School Committee member are also considered public
Electronic mail can be requested as a public record, and it may be used as evidence in legal proceedings.
The Chair of the School Committee will provide members with current
guidelines for the length of time they should retain various categories
of electronic correspondence in their computer files or as paper copies.
Region Voted to Approve: 10/10/06
Amherst Voted to Approve: 11/14/06
Pelham Voted to Approve: 11/02/06
Effective Date: 11/14/06