(a) Individual members of the Board are required to keep confidential the matters discussed at meetings including all documents drafted and disseminated to Board members unless otherwise agreed by the Board.
(b) Where allegations of a breach of confidentiality by any Board member arise, the matter should be brought to the attention of the Chairperson who shall bring it to the attention of the Patron at the earliest opportunity. If the Chairperson is the person who is allegedly responsible for the breach then any Board member may bring the matter directly to the attention of the Patron at the earliest opportunity. The Patron shall arrange for an investigation into the matter and shall reach a conclusion on the matter.
(c) Where the Patron is satisfied, after due investigation, that any member of the Board infringed this injunction of confidentiality, he or she may, subject to the consent of the Minister remove that person from membership in accordance with Section 16 of the Education Act, 1998 and shall not subsequently nominate that person as a member of any Board of Management.
Important Note: Board members are not delegates of their electorates. They have no obligation to either report back to their electors or to take instruction from them on how to vote at Board meetings. Such reporting may be a breach of confidentiality requirements. It is a matter for each Board to decide what may be reported and by whom and, in this respect, it is essential that personnel, financial and personal matters are dealt with in line with relevant confidentiality requirements.
Decisions arrived at by consensus or by vote are decisions of the Board. Individual members of the Board are obliged to keep confidential the matters discussed at meetings unless otherwise agreed by the Board and where so agreed, members of the Board must not publicly criticise or make any negative public comment about Board decisions, irrespective of their own personal views on the matter.
9. Board communications/transparency
(a) Good management practice will require frequent communications to parents, staff and the school community.
(b) The Board shall put in place procedures to support good communication within the school community. Section 26(3) of the Education Act, 1998 states that the Board “shall promote contact between the school, parents of students in that school and the community and shall facilitate and give all reasonable assistance to parents who wish to establish a Parents’ Association and to a Parents’ Association when it is established”.
(c) The Board, at the closure of each Board meeting shall determine the information to be conveyed to parents, school staff and the school community, and the manner and terms in which it should be conveyed and by whom. An agreed report should be drawn up for this purpose. The agreed report shall not include details of any issues which must remain confidential to Board members. Such issues should be clearly identified and members must be notified of their obligations in respect of the confidentiality requirements under section 8.
Note: In authorising the dissemination of information under section 8(c), the Board shall pursue a policy of openness and have a positive approach to sharing information with the school community. The provisions of section 8(a) regarding confidentiality need not necessarily conflict with the operation of such a policy; the provisions of section 8 are intended to protect against inappropriate disclosure rather than to obstruct good communications and transparency.