Open Meetings Law FAQ 7

How specific must notice of a closed session be?

The legislature has recognized that there are important interests that will be served by allowing certain governmental business to be conducted in closed session. Wis. Stat. § 19.85. Still, the public has an indisputable interest in being informed about the matters a governmental body will discuss and act on at a meeting, even in closed session. Wisconsin Stat. § 19.84(2) requires public notice of a meeting to set forth the time, date, place, and subject matter of the meeting, including that intended for consideration at any closed session, in such form as is reasonably likely to apprise members of the public and news media thereof. (Emphasis added).

The Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Open Meetings Law Compliance Guide provides that the notice must also contain the specific nature of the matters to be discussed. Simply reciting the authorizing exemption allowing the closed session is insufficient. Rather, the closed session notice should be as specific as possible without undermining the purpose for going into closed session.

(rev. 8/22)