Attorney General's Opinion 1969-70 #316A


October 29, 1969

Commonwealth's Attorney for Greene County

69-70 316A

This is in reply to your inquiry of October 21, 1969, as to whether a board of welfare may properly hold an executive session at the direction of the Superintendent of the board any preclude attendance by members of the board of supervisors. You state that the executive session was desired because "questions involving personalities were to be on the agenda."

Pertinent to your inquiry is § 2.1-344 of the Virginia Code. This section is part of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act and specifies the instances in which a public body may hold executive sessions from which the public is excluded. The act is made applicable to county boards of welfare by § 2.1-341(a). You will note that § 2.1-344(7)(b) specifies that an executive session may be held only upon a recorded affirmative vote to that effect. Therefore, a public body subject to the act may not go into executive session merely at the direction of the presiding officer thereof.

Executive sessions may be held only for those purposes set forth in § 2.1-344. In this connection I direct your attention to § 2.1-344(3) of the act which reads as follows:

"Executive or closed meetings may be held only for the following purposes:

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"(3) The protection of the privacy of individuals in personal matters not related to public business."