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Website Requirements Schools Should Know

Kacie Kefgen

By Kacie Kefgen, MASB Assistant Director of Labor Relations and Legal Services

DashBoard, Oct. 11, 2017

Most, if not all, school districts in Michigan maintain websites to communicate with their parents, students and communities. Districts are free to post a variety of materials on their websites, but they are also required by state statute to post a great deal of information. A list of major requirements that districts should be aware of as they maintain their websites can be found below. This is by no means an exhaustive list of all website requirements for school districts. There are, no doubt, requirements based on local district policy and/or administrative rules that are not reflected here.

Budget Postings and Transparency Reporting (MCL 388.1618)

A school district must post a variety of financial and budget information within 15 days after adopting its annual budget. The statute also includes certain format requirements for presenting the information. (MCL 388.1618)

Virtual Course Catalog (MCL 388.1621f)

Districts must provide on their websites a link to the statewide catalog of virtual courses maintained by Michigan Virtual. (MCL 388.1621f)

Performance Evaluation System for Teachers and School Administrators (MCL 380.1249 & MCL 380.1249b)

A district must post information about its performance evaluation tool on its website. (MCL 380.1249 & MCL 380.1249b)

Crime Reporting (MCL 380.1310a)

School districts must post on their websites annual reports of crimes occurring at school. (MCL 380.1310a)

Michigan Merit Curriculum (MCL 380.1278b)

A school district must notify students and parents about the available personal curriculum options to earn a high school diploma. (MCL 380.1278b(5)(p))

School Safety Drills and Cardiac Response Plans (MCL 29.19)

School districts are required to conduct a variety of safety drills and prepare cardiac response plans. Documentation on the district’s website is required. (MCL 29.19)

Common School Calendar (MCL 380.1284a)

ISDs are required to post common calendars on their websites. (MCL 380.1284a)

Open Meetings Act (MCL 15.265)

School districts, as public bodies, must comply with the Open Meetings Act. Here are the Open Meetings Act requirements that could impact a district’s website (MCL 15.265):

  • for a rescheduled regular or a special meeting of a public body, a public notice stating the date, time and place of the meeting shall be posted at least 18 hours before the meeting in a prominent and conspicuous place at both:
    • the public body's principal office and,
    • a portion of the district’s website that is fully accessible to the public (if the district has a website). The public notice on the website shall be included on either the homepage or on a separate webpage dedicated to public notices for nonregularly scheduled public meetings and accessible via a prominent and conspicuous link on the website's homepage that clearly describes its purpose for public notification of those nonregularly scheduled public meetings.
  • If a public body holds an emergency public meeting that does not comply with the 18-hour posted notice requirement, it shall make paper copies of the public notice for the emergency meeting available to the public at that meeting. If the district has a website that includes regular updates of public meeting agendas or minutes, it shall post the public notice of the emergency meeting and its explanation of why it is needed on its website.

Freedom of Information Act (MCL 15.231 et seq.)

If a district would like to charge fees for public record searches, there are a number of requirements the district must comply with under Michigan’s FOIA Statute. (MCL 15.231 et seq.) Here are the requirements that could impact a district’s website:

  • The district must post and maintain the procedures and guidelines and its written public summary on its website.
  • A public body that posts and maintains procedures and guidelines and its written public summary on its website may include the website link to the documents in lieu of providing paper copies in its response to a written request.
  • If the district has a website that houses public records, the district cannot charge a fee to provide those public records.
  • If the FOIA coordinator knows or has reason to know that all or a portion of the requested information is available on its website, the public body shall notify the requestor in its written response that all or a portion of the requested information is available on its website and provide the appropriate links to the information.
  • On the detailed itemization described in subsection (4), the public body shall separate the requested public records that are available on its website from those that are not available on the website and shall inform the requestor of the additional charge to receive copies of the public records that are available on its website.
  • If the public body has included the website address for a record in its written response to the requestor and the requestor thereafter stipulates that the public record be provided to him or her in a paper format or other form as described under subsection (1)(c), the public body shall provide the public records in the specified format but may use a fringe benefit multiplier greater than the 50% limitation in subsection (2), not to exceed the actual costs of providing the information in the specified format.
  • If a verbal request for information is for information that a public body believes is available on the public body's website, the public employee shall, where practicable and to the best of the public employee's knowledge, inform the requestor about the public body's pertinent website address.

Local Financial Stability and Choice Act (Emergency Manager Law, MCL 141.1541 et seq.)

If the school district is in a financial emergency and has a consent agreement, it may have a continuing operations plan. If it does, it may be required to submit quarterly compliance reports, which must be posted within seven days after the report is submitted to the State Treasurer. (MCL 141.1548) Local inspector and auditor reports may also be required to be posted. (MCL 141.1552)

Pesticide Notifications (MCL 324.8316)

If a school uses pesticides at a school or day care center, there are parental notification requirements, which may include a posting on the school’s website. (MCL 324.8316)

ISD Expenses (MCL 380.620)

There are extensive requirements for ISDs to post financial and expense information on their websites. (MCL 380.620)

ISD Career and Technical Education Audits (MCL 380.681)

If there is an audit of an ISD’s CTE program, that audit must be posted within 30 days. (MCL 380.681)

Deficit Elimination Plans (MCL 380.1220)

If a district is required to submit a deficit elimination plan, and it is approved by the state superintendent, it must be posted. Monthly monitoring reports must also be posted. (MCL 380.1220(3))

Performance Evaluation System for Teachers and School Administrators (MCL 380.1249 & MCL 380.1249b)

A district must post information about its performance evaluation tool on its website. (MCL 380.1249 & MCL 380.1249b)

Construction Contracts (MCL 380.1267)

When a school district advertises for competitive bids, it must post the advertisement on either the Department of Technology, Management and Budget website or a website maintained by a school organization and designated by DTMB for this purpose. (MCL 380.1267(2))

Accountability Postings (MCL 380.1280e)

State statute requires that a school district post the Adequate Yearly Progress status and accreditation status of each of its schools on the district’s website. Given changes to both federal and state accountability programs, it is unclear whether schools are able to meet these requirements. (MCL 380.1280e)

Third Grade Reading (MCL 380.1280f)

Starting on June 19, 2019, if a district cannot furnish the number and types of teachers required by this section of statute in a given school year, it must develop a staffing plan by Aug. 15 of that school year and post the plan on its website. (MCL 380.1280f)

Telecommunications Capacity (MCL 484.2307)

If a school district wishes to sell excess telecommunications capacity, it must hold a public hearing on the issue after proper notice, including a posting on the district’s website. (MCL 484.2307(6)(c))

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