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BEDL Remote Participation

File: BEDL 

I. Policy 

1. Policy
It is the policy of the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District to allow remote participation of members of the School Committee and any of its subcommittees or working groups (public body) at any of its meetings subject to the requirements of this policy. The regulations of the Office of the Attorney General of Massachusetts on Remote Participation, 940 CMR 29.10 et seq., are adopted as modified to serve as the policy of the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District.

2. Minimum Requirements for Remote Participation
         a) Members of a public body who participate remotely and all persons present at the meeting location shall be clearly audible to each other; 
b) A quorum of the body, including the chair or, in the chair’s absence,  the person authorized to chair the meeting, shall be physically present at the meeting location, as required by M.G.L. c. 30A, sec 20(d); 
c) Members of public bodies who participate remotely may vote and shall not be deemed absent for the purposes of M.G.L. c. 39, sec. 23D 

3. Permissible Reasons for Remote Participation.
A member of a public body shall be permitted to participate remotely in a meeting, in accordance with the procedures described in section (5), if the chair or, in the chair’s absence, the person chairing the meeting, determines that one or more of the following factors makes the member’s physical attendance unreasonably difficult: 
a) Personal illness; 
b) Personal disability; 
c) Emergency; 
d) Military service; or 
e) Geographic distance. 
4. Technology
a) The following media are acceptable methods for remote participation. Remote participation by any other means is not permitted. Accommodations shall be made for any public body member who requires TTY service, video relay service, or other form of adaptive telecommunications. 
i. telephone, internet, or satellite enabled audio or video conferencing; 
ii. any other technology that enables the remote participant and all persons present at the meeting location to be clearly audible to one another.
b) When video technology is in use, the remote participant shall be clearly visible to all persons present in the meeting location. 
c) The public body shall determine which of the acceptable methods may be used by its members. 
d) The chair or, in the chair’s absence, the person chairing the meeting, may decide how to address technical difficulties that arise as a result of utilizing remote participation, but is encouraged, wherever possible, to suspend discussion while reasonable efforts are made to correct any problem that interferes with a remote participant’s ability to hear or be heard clearly by all persons present at the meeting location. If technical difficulties result in a remote participant being disconnected from the meeting, that fact and the time at which the disconnection occurred shall be noted in the meeting minutes. 
e) The amount and source of payment for any costs associated with remote participation shall be determined by the School Committee. 
5. Procedures for Remote Participation
Any member of a public body who wishes to participate remotely shall, as soon as reasonably possible prior to a meeting, notify the chair or, in the chair’s absence, the person chairing the meeting, of his or her desire to do so and the reason for and facts supporting his or her request. If the person chairing the meeting determines that the member has previously remotely participated in two meetings within the current fiscal year, then the request shall be brought to the full public body for a participation determination as the first agenda item at the meeting. If the person chairing the meeting determines that technology necessary to enable remote participation at the meeting will not be available, then all requests for remote participation at that meeting shall be denied. 
At the start of the meeting, the chair shall announce the name of any member who will be participating remotely and the reason under section (3) for his or her remote participation. This information shall also be recorded in the meeting minutes. 

All votes taken during any meeting in which a member participates remotely shall be by roll call vote. 
Adopted: 5/19/2021