HR employee resources - Conducting a Search & Screen meeting, compliant with the Wisconsin Open Meetings Law
This resource is for search and screen committees or panels on how to ensure compliance with the Wisconsin Open Meetings Law.
This information pertains to both Search Committees and Search Panels. Posting for an Open Meeting will pertain to Searches for:
- Non-Instructional Academic Staff
- Instructional Academic Staff (not inclusive of Pool Searches)
- Limited Appointments
Wisconsin Open Meetings Law (WOML):
Any committee meetings, or gatherings of one-half or more of the committee membership to discuss the matters of this committee, constitute a meeting under the WOML. "Matters", in this context, refers to any of the following, but is not limited to:
- Any meeting of the Committee to discuss the Recruitment
- Any meeting of the Committee to conduct interviews, (in this situation the meeting agenda should say "Conduct Interviews in Closed Session". Do not publish the names of the applicants).
- Searches that conduct an on campus interview with multiple interviews with groups of stakeholders or open forms need not go into closed session unless necessary.
For consistency, all faculty, IAS, (not inclusive of Pool Searches), and administrative recruitments will follow the Open Meetings Laws of the State of Wisconsin.
Any committee member who knowingly attends a meeting held in violation of the WOML is subject to a penalty of $25-$300 per violation.
Search and screen committee meeting notices should be done by the Search Recorder or Chair. The posting must then be included in the "Posting Documents" section of the Recruitment after the Search has concluded. To submit an open meetings notice for a Search and Screen meeting, please review this article.
To post all other types of meetings, see the UW-La Crosse open meetings page.
Advance notice of the meetings must be given to: 1) the public, 2) any members of the news media who have submitted a written request for notice, and 3) the official newspaper/medium in the area. Human Resources will assist with the first organizational meeting for administrative searches. Thereafter this responsibility is vested in the committee chair. For all other searches, the convener or chair has this responsibility.
- Your notice should contain the time, date, location, and subject matter of the meeting, including what will be discussed in a closed session.
- As noted above, please do not publish the names of applicants. You may post "the purpose of this meeting is to interview applicants. The committee/panel may meet in Closed Session for this purpose).
- Notice must be given at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting, unless for good cause such notice was impossible or impractical. Under these conditions at least two hours’ notice must be given.
- If you plan to go into a closed session to consider personal history relevant to hiring, for example, then you must include notice that you will go into a closed session and cite the exemptions under which you are invoking the closed session. The intent is to inform interested parties and your notice should do so.
Sample Open Meeting Notice:
Subject: Art Department Search and Screen Meeting
- Introduction of committee members
- Committee charge
- Recruitment process information
- Affirmative action information
If applicable, indicate meeting may go into closed session: “Meeting may go into closed session to consider possible employment and personal history of candidates as provided in section 19.85 (1)(c) of Wisconsin Statutes.”
A simple majority of committee members constitute a quorum necessary to conduct committee business. Changes to these procedures require approval of a two-thirds majority of the committee members present and approval of the dean, Human Resources and the Affirmative Action Office.
Members may not vote by proxy but may participate and vote by teleconference with advance notice to the committee chair. The committee chair is a voting member of the committee. All voting shall be done by show of hands unless a roll-call vote is requested by any member of the committee. The committee chair shall maintain a record of all votes by indicating the number of yeas, nays, and abstentions. Roll-call votes shall be used if a member is attending via teleconference.
- All meetings of this committee must begin in an open session. It must be held in a location reasonably accessible to the public and open to all citizens. Open sessions can be audio taped or videotaped by anyone as long as doing so does not disrupt the meeting.
- Nonmembers can observe open meetings, but do not have the right to participate in the meetings.
- Committee minutes should record motions, roll call votes, and decisions at both open and closed sessions.
- Open sessions go into closed sessions by invoking the exemption under law that allows the committee to go into a closed session. This can be made in the form of a motion by a committee member, seconded, a roll call vote held, which if positive will result in the committee going into a closed session. The motion for a Search and Screen committee would read, "I move we convene in a closed session to consider personal history information about applicants for the position of [insert title] as provided in section 19.85 (1)(c) of Wisconsin Statutes." A majority vote is required to go into a closed session. The vote and nature of the discussion should be part of the official minutes.
- The committee may not reconvene in an open session, after going into a closed session, for 12 hours unless public notice of the subsequent open session is given in the initial public notice.
- For more specific information on closed session exemptions, see section 19.85 of the Wisconsin State Statutes.
All deliberations of the committee and the names of nominees and applicants are confidential. All questions relating to the business or progress of the committee are to be referred to the committee chair or Human Resources.
- Open Meetings Law, UW System Office of General Counsel: https://www.wisconsin.edu/general-counsel/legal-topics/open-meetings-law/
- Open Meetings Law, UW System Office of General Counsel FAQs: https://www.wisconsin.edu/general-counsel/legal-topics/open-meetings-law/frequently-asked-questions-wisconsin-open-meetings-law/
- UW-La Crosse Open Meetings Information: http://uwlax.edu/info/meetings/
- Wisconsin Legislature: 19.85, exceptions to the Open Meetings Law: http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/19/V/85