NHSBA Update: COVID-19 & School District
Meetings - Attorney General's Guidance


Dear NHSBA Members -

This notice is pertinent only to districts which have not yet held their 2020 Annual Meeting
Please pass along to your moderators
 
            As the COVID-19 situation has unfolded in New Hampshire, NHSBA has worked to provide information and advice to districts based upon the guidance of DHHS, DOE and the CDC. As you are all aware, this situation has been rapidly changing through the country and state, and today the Attorney General's Office issued new information (please see attached Memorandum) relative to the postponement of district meetings. 
The memorandum states that moderators may be able to use the authority to postpone the business sessions and deliberative sessions under RSA 40:4, after assessing local circumstances and consulting with their legal counsel and public safety officials, as well as consulting health advice from DHHS and CDC.
In addition to the cautions stated in paragraph 6 of the Attorney General's memorandum regarding postponement, School Districts should also consider that teacher non-renewal notices are due on April 15, and without a budget passed, a district would not be able to assure full funding.
If a determination is made that postponing is justified, RSA 40:4, II (a) permits a moderator to postpone the business meeting of traditional school district meeting, or the deliberative session of an SB 2 school district meeting, where the moderator reasonably believes an "emergency" exists that "may render the use of the meeting location unsafe."  Here are the decision-making steps NHSBA recommends a moderator follow:
  • The decision by the moderator to postpone may be made at any time prior to the scheduled deliberative or business session.
  • To the extent practical, before the moderator makes the decision to postpone s/he shall consult with the governing body, clerk, and as appropriate the health officer, fire chief, road agent and police chief.
  • When making the decision to postpone, and during the local official consultation process, the moderator must arrange a new date, place and time certain for the postponed meeting to occur.
  • When the moderator makes the announcement that the district meeting is postponed, that announcement shall state the new date, place and time for the postponed meeting.
  • If the postponed meeting is an SB 2 deliberative session (should only impact districts with May meetings), RSA 40:4, II (c) requires that the postponement shall not delay the deliberative session more than 72 hours.  Realistically, postponing the deliberative session of an SB 2 district by only 72 hours may not be sufficient from a public health point of view.  Accordingly, moderators in an SB 2 district planning to postpone a deliberative session may also want to consider postponing the official ballot voting day, using the procedures prescribed in RSA 669:1 and RSA 669:1-a. 
As stated in the Attorney General's Memo, NHSBA strongly recommends you consult with your own legal counsel before making the decision to postpone any session of district meeting.
NHSBA is continuing to work in partnership with the state to provide consistent, coordinated information to school districts. NHSBA members should reach out to us with questions.

Barrett M. Christina, Esq.
NHSBA Executive Director
bchristina@nhsba.org
(603) 228-2061

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