TITLE 42
State Affairs and Government

CHAPTER 42-46
Open Meetings

SECTION 42-46-5


§ 42-46-5 Purposes for which meeting may be closed – Use of electronic communications – Judicial proceedings – Disruptive conduct.

(a) A public body may hold a meeting closed to the public pursuant to § 42-46-4 for one or more of the following purposes:

(1) Any discussions of the job performance, character, or physical or mental health of a person or persons provided that such person or persons affected shall have been notified in advance in writing and advised that they may require that the discussion be held at an open meeting.

Failure to provide such notification shall render any action taken against the person or persons affected null and void. Before going into a closed meeting pursuant to this subsection, the public body shall state for the record that any persons to be discussed have been so notified and this statement shall be noted in the minutes of the meeting.

(2) Sessions pertaining to collective bargaining or litigation, or work sessions pertaining to collective bargaining or litigation.

(3) Discussion regarding the matter of security including, but not limited to, the deployment of security personnel or devices.

(4) Any investigative proceedings regarding allegations of misconduct, either civil or criminal.

(5) Any discussions or considerations related to the acquisition or lease of real property for public purposes, or of the disposition of publicly held property wherein advanced public information would be detrimental to the interest of the public.

(6) Any discussions related to or concerning a prospective business or industry locating in the state of Rhode Island when an open meeting would have a detrimental effect on the interest of the public.

(7) A matter related to the question of the investment of public funds where the premature disclosure would adversely affect the public interest. Public funds shall include any investment plan or matter related thereto, including, but not limited to, state lottery plans for new promotions.

(8) Any executive sessions of a local school committee exclusively for the purposes: (i) of conducting student disciplinary hearings; or (ii) of reviewing other matters which relate to the privacy of students and their records, including all hearings of the various juvenile hearing boards of any municipality; provided, however, that any affected student shall have been notified in advance in writing and advised that he or she may require that the discussion be held in an open meeting.

Failure to provide such notification shall render any action taken against the student or students affected null and void. Before going into a closed meeting pursuant to this subsection, the public body shall state for the record that any students to be discussed have been so notified and this statement shall be noted in the minutes of the meeting.

(9) Any hearings on, or discussions of, a grievance filed pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement.

(10) Any discussion of the personal finances of a prospective donor to a library.

(b) No meeting of members of a public body or use of electronic communication, including telephonic communication and telephone conferencing, shall be used to circumvent the spirit or requirements of this chapter; provided, however, these meetings and discussions are not prohibited.

(1) Provided, further however, that discussions of a public body via electronic communication, including telephonic communication and telephone conferencing, shall be permitted only to schedule a meeting.

(2) Provided, further however, that a member of a public body may participate by use of electronic communication or telephone communication while on active duty in the armed services of the United States.

(3) Provided, further however, that a member of that public body, who has a disability as defined in chapter 87 of title 42 and:

(i) Cannot attend meetings of that public body solely by reason of his or her disability; and

(ii) Cannot otherwise participate in the meeting without the use of electronic communication or telephone communication as reasonable accommodation, may participate by use of electronic communication or telephone communication in accordance with the process below.

(4) The governor's commission on disabilities is authorized and directed to:

(i) Establish rules and regulations for determining whether a member of a public body is not otherwise able to participate in meetings of that public body without the use of electronic communication or telephone communication as a reasonable accommodation due to that member's disability;

(ii) Grant a waiver that allows a member to participate by electronic communication or telephone communication only if the member's disability would prevent him/her from being physically present at the meeting location, and the use of such communication is the only reasonable accommodation; and

(iii) Any waiver decisions shall be a matter of public record.

(c) This chapter shall not apply to proceedings of the judicial branch of state government or probate court or municipal court proceedings in any city or town.

(d) This chapter shall not prohibit the removal of any person who willfully disrupts a meeting to the extent that orderly conduct of the meeting is seriously compromised.

History of Section.
(G.L. 1956, § 42-46-5; P.L. 1976, ch. 330, § 2; P.L. 1982, ch. 352, § 1; P.L. 1988, ch. 659, § 1; P.L. 1995, ch. 265, § 1; P.L. 1998, ch. 379, § 1; P.L. 2000, ch. 330, § 1; P.L. 2000, ch. 463, § 1; P.L. 2005, ch. 91, § 1; P.L. 2005, ch. 98, § 1; P.L. 2005, ch. 103, § 1; P.L. 2005, ch. 134, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 602, § 1; P.L. 2007, ch. 433, § 1.)