Speaking at an OPERS Board or Committee Meeting
The Ohio Open Meetings Law governs meetings of the OPERS Board and its committees. The Open Meetings Law requires public bodies such as the OPERS Board to take official action and to conduct deliberations upon official business in meetings open to the public.
There are two general exceptions to the right of the public to attend and observe the meetings. The first exception is when the Board or Committee is in an "executive session". An executive session is authorized by the Open Meetings Law to allow the Board or Committee to privately discuss limited matters within the executive session. The Board or Committee may exclude members of the public from the executive session, and only persons invited by the Board committee may attend the executive session.
The second exception to the right to attend and observe a meeting is if a member of the public becomes disruptive. The Open Meetings Law permits this person to be removed from the meeting because the person has in effect waived their right of attendance.
The Open Meetings Law itself does not give members of the public the right to be heard at a public meeting. The OPERS Board, however, will allow reasonable opportunity for members of the public to be heard according to the following guidelines:
- The matter should relate to a specific meeting agenda item, or be within the Board or Committee's jurisdiction.
- The Board or Committee is unable to entertain requests for public comment on matters that have an existing forum for resolution. Examples of such matters include, but are not limited to, membership appeals to the Board, which must proceed pursuant to the guidelines of Ohio Administrative Code 145-1-11; internal OPERS employee or former OPERS employee complaints, which must proceed through the internal grievance process set forth in the employee manual; disability applications and appeals; and any pending litigation.
- Individuals who wish to address the Board or Committee should complete a request upon a form provided by OPERS, listing the individual's name, affiliation, the agenda upon which the individual wishes to speak, or if the matter does not relate to an agenda item, a brief description of the nature of the matter to be addressed by the individual.
- A request to speak before the Board or Committee should be submitted to the attention of the Executive Director on the form approved by OPERS.
- Any request to appear before the Board or Committee should be received by 4 p.m. a week prior to the scheduled Board or Committee meeting. In all cases, the Board Chair and Executive Director have the discretion to schedule the date and time of any request.
- Requests to address the Board or Committee will be evaluated for appropriate content by the Executive Director, General Counsel, and appropriate staff in consultation with the Board or Committee Chair.
- If a request is granted, the Chairperson of the Board or Committee will call upon the individual to speak at the appropriate time during the meeting.
- The time allowed for individuals to address the Board is generally limited to five minutes per person or group.
- The number of requests granted per meeting may be limited depending upon the number of other agenda items for that particular meeting.
- Speakers may not engage in defamatory, derogatory, or abusive remarks. The Chairperson may terminate an individual's privilege to speak if they engage in such behavior.
- The Board or Committee members may ask speakers questions at the discretion of the chairperson.
Request to Address the OPERS board or committee Form
If you wish to address the OPERS Board or one of its Committees, please complete this form and deliver to the OPERS Executive Director by 4 p.m. a week prior to the scheduled Board or Committee meeting. In all cases, the Board Chair and Executive Director have the discretion to schedule the date and time of any request.
You may mail, hand deliver, or fax your request to the Office of the Executive Director, OPERS, 277 East Town Street, Columbus, OH 43215 or fax to (614) 222-2917. Requests should be received by OPERS by 4 p.m. a week prior to the scheduled meeting.
PLEASE NOTE: THE FAX NUMBER LISTED ABOVE IS ONLY FOR SPEAKING AT A BOARD MEETING. PLEASE CALL 1-800-222-7377 IF YOU NEED TO FAX OTHER MATERIALS TO OPERS.