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Closed Meetings

June 14, 1998

Re "School Board Makes a Habit of Closed Meetings," June 1:

Engaging in closed sessions to review sensitive personnel matters both minimizes our exposure to legal challenges and affords the employee a measure of privacy and respect. The Brown Act allows for elected bodies to obtain information from and give direction to their labor negotiators. Imagine how difficult it would be to hammer out tough agreements with our unions in an open forum. Under California law, it is not only legal, but practical, to have district counsel discuss litigation with board members in closed session. Publicly communicating sensitive information regarding a trial can not only jeopardize the outcome, but also cost the taxpayers money in the event the district is not successful in defending its interests.

You observe that other agencies apparently spend less time in closed session. I suspect this is largely due to the degree to which these agencies have delegated functions to staff. Our board believes that better decisions in litigation, collective bargaining and personnel result from greater oversight and involvement by the board. This is a legitimate policy question, but not any violation of the Brown Act.

JULIE KORENSTEIN, LAUSD Board President

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