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USF Office of the General Counsel (813) 974-2131 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "USF Office of the General Counsel (813) 974-2131 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 USF Office of the General Counsel (813) 974-2131 2008

2 8/14/2015 2 The Florida “Open Government” Laws  Florida Statutes, Chapter 286, the “Open Meetings Law,” often referred to as the “Sunshine Law” protects the public from “closed door” decision making and provides a right of access to governmental meetings.  Florida Statutes, Chapter 119, the “Public Records Law,” creates a right of access to records made or received in connection with official business of a public body

3 The Sunshine Law  Florida Statute Chapter 286 applies to all meetings of “any board or commission of any state agency or authority.” This includes university search committees.  It requires:  1. All meetings of the board must be open meetings.  2. Reasonable notice of meetings must be given.  3. Minutes of meetings must be kept. 8/14/2015 3

4 Search Committee MEETINGS  must be open to the public to attend  include any discussions or deliberations, formal or casual, between two or more search committee members about a matter on which the Board might foreseeably take action  include workshops, telephone conversations, e-mail communications, off-campus conversations (even if at a social function or event when committee business is discussed) 8/14/2015 4

5 Search Committee NOTICE  Reasonable Notice of Meetings Required  Reasonable notice is ample notice given to the public and press which reasonably and timely conveys all information necessary to enable them to choose to attend  “Reasonable” depends upon situation’s circumstances  Meeting may not be held at facility/location inaccessible to public or which discriminates regarding admission/accessibility 8/14/2015 5

6 Search Committee Minutes  Minutes must be recorded and open to public inspection  Minutes need not be verbatim--but rather brief summary of meeting’s events  Sound recordings may be used in addition to written minutes, but if used, must be retained – sound recordings are not a standard university practice 8/14/2015 6

7 Open Meetings: Voting Requirements  Votes must be publicly taken  No secret ballots  Roll call vote is not required  All members must vote (unless they have a conflict of interest which has been disclosed) and the minutes must so reflect by recording of the vote or counting a vote for each member 8/14/2015 7

8 Sunshine Law: General Requirements  Sunshine Law is broadly construed – exemptions narrowly construed  No use of evasive devices  Circulation of written reports  Single staff member reporting to each member what the other members think re: an issue, including information relayed to administrative staff 8/14/2015 8

9 Penalties for Noncompliance  Second degree misdemeanor to knowingly violate Sunshine Law  Removal from position  Fine of up to $500  Reasonable attorneys’ fees  Declaratory and injunctive relief  Action taken at illegal meeting invalid 8/14/2015 9

10 Public Records Law Florida Statutes Chapter 119 defines Public Records as  all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing software, or other material  regardless of physical form or means of transmission  made or received pursuant to law in connection with transaction of official business by the agency  Not applicable to truly personal records (e.g. hand written diary notes not communicated to others) 8/14/201510

11 Public Records Law: Application  Public records law applies to USF records including job applications, letters of interest, correspondence, etc.  Applies to all types of records including letters, notes and e-mails  The law is broadly construed and its exemptions narrowly construed 8/14/201511

12 Public Records: Exemptions  USF records which are exempt from public disclosure generally include:  Social Security numbers  Medical information  Personnel information prior to 7/1/95  Academic evaluation of job performance  Disciplinary records while discipline is in process  Student records under FERPA 8/14/201512

13 Public Records: Generally  Requests can be:  Verbal or written  Made by any person  USF has a “reasonable” time to respond  USF can charge the cost of retrieving records to the requestor that requires the extensive use of IT resources or USF labor 8/14/201513

14 Public Records – What is not Required  Does not require the creation of records or provision of records in the format requested  Does not require turning records over on the spot to a requestor  Does not require verbal explanation of records 8/14/201514

15 Tips for the Search Committee Chair  Consider asking a reliable staff member to properly respond to correspondence, arrange meeting logistics, help respond to public records requests, and keep a copy of official committee records on file, etc.  Sunshine Law still applies even when using outside search firms  Applicant lists are public and routinely requested by the media  Do NOT rank candidates numerically  While it is a legal practice, it is not recommended in the public sector  Consider that the rankings have limited utility, are public records and are available to candidates (successful and not)  The better practice is to provide the hiring authority with a group of qualified names appropriate for further consideration  USF could not function without the hours of dedicated service contributed by Search Committee volunteers and leaders-- THANK YOU for your service!

16 SUMMARY  The Sunshine Law applies to all meetings of USF Search Committees  The Public Records Law applies to the records maintained by USF Search Committees  All University personnel should know the basics of these two laws to ensure our continued compliance 8/14/201516

17 Have More Questions?? Please Contact The Office of the General Counsel CGS 301 (813) 974-2131 8/14/201517

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