The Montgomery County Board of Education meets at its Rockville headquarters in March 2023. Credit: Em Espey

The Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education violated part of the state Open Meetings Act during a closed session last year by failing to provide sufficiently detailed disclosures to the public before meeting in closed session, according to an opinion letter from the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board that was made public Friday.

The state board’s finding comes as the school board and MCPS are responding defensively to a call for greater transparency from County Council President Evan Glass (D-At-large), which he described in an op-ed in MoCo360.

An MCPS spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment via text and email Saturday.

The complaint was filed by Janis Zink Sartucci of the Parents’ Coalition of Montgomery County and the response was posted on the coalition’s website Friday. Sartucci could not immediately be reached for comment on Saturday.

Sartucci alleged in her complaint that the school board violated the Maryland Open Meetings Act by failing to make sufficiently detailed disclosures before meeting in closed session on Sept. 22, 2022.

“We agree that the disclosures lacked details required by the Act,” the compliance board wrote in its Dec. 7, 2022 letter.


According to the compliance board, the act generally requires a public body to conduct its business in meetings open to the public except when the body carries out a function outside the scope of the act or discusses a matter that falls within one of fifteen exceptions that allow for a closed session. Before a public body meets in closed session to discuss a matter that falls under one of the exceptions, the act requires that the presiding officer “conduct a recorded vote on the closing of the session” and “make a written statement of the reason for closing the meeting, including a citation of the authority” for closing the meeting under and “a listing of the topics to be discussed.”

The compliance board found that when the school board went into closed session on Sept. 22,  the Board of Education invoked four exceptions that required disclosures: the personnel matters, the collective bargaining, and the legal advice and litigation exceptions.

“Each disclosure is lacking in some respect,” the compliance board wrote.  “The disclosure fails to provide a topic of discussion, offering instead a near-verbatim restatement of the exception itself.”


The compliance board said while the school board is allowed to maintain some confidentiality when it comes to personnel matters, especially the personal identity of the personnel involved, it still needs to provide some level of detail.

“We believe the Board could have provided more detail about the personnel matters under discussion without compromising confidentiality, perhaps by identifying the positions of the personnel under discussion or, at the very least, specifying which category or categories of personnel matters listed in the exception would be the focus of the discussion,” the compliance board wrote. “Merely restating the language of the exception itself was insufficient and a violation of the Act.”

The compliance board also said the collective bargaining exception did not include disclosure of which labor union(s) were involved, which is a violation of the act, and that the reasoning for the legal advice and litigation exceptions were “too vague to satisfy the Act.”