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How much do top administrators at your school make? 

Employee contracts can provide reporters with newsworthy information about how a public school is utilizing taxpayer money for employee salaries and other benefits.

Check out our new guide "How to report on school employee contracts and salaries" to learn more about how to access salary information and contracts. We also included story ideas and things to keep in mind when reporting.

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Did you know? In addition to SPLC's legal hotline and expansive collection of legal guides and helpful resources for student journalists and advisers, we also provide coverage guides for reporters. 

In recent weeks we've created a guide to using the Clery Act to cover campus crime and collected resources for student journalists covering the 2020 election

What guide do you want to see next? Send us an email with your suggestions:
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Q: Does the student government at my public school have to abide by my state's open meetings laws? 

A:
Maybe. Open meetings laws vary by state, and most courts haven’t specifically ruled on whether state open meetings laws apply to student government meetings. Generally, courts will look to factors like whether a body has been given decision-making authority or the power to allocate fees to determine whether it is a meeting of a governmental or public body. Many student body governments have the authority to set policies that will affect students and distribute student activity fees collected by the university, which may make a court inclined to rule that student government functions as an official arm of the government. Sometimes statutes even explicitly state that all bodies that are supported by or expend public money or tax revenue are covered by the open meetings laws. There are at least 19 state laws that contain that language. 

Additionally, if you’re able to trace your student government’s creation back to an official act of the university’s board of regents or some other official body of the school, that will add considerable weight to an argument that the student government is a governmental body that should abide by open meetings laws. 

If you have more specific questions about your state’s open meetings law and how it applies to student government bodies, check out our state-by-state analysis of how a court might decide the issue in your state. 

See previous Ask SPLC answers

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