Ghiglione v. School Committee of Southbridge was a case before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 1978 concerning documents related to collective bargaining and union grievance hearings.
This case established that the collective bargaining exemption found within the Massachusetts Open Meetings Act applied to not only bargaining sessions but grievance claims concerning contractual obligations.
- On December 21, 1976, the School Committee of Southbridge held an open meeting to discuss normal school business. After the meeting ended, the committee convened to a closed, unscheduled session for a hearing on a teacher's grievance.
- The closed session was requested by the teacher and closed grievance sessions are required by collective union bargaining.
- A citizen who attempted to attend the session was forcibly removed.
- A group of citizens, including Ghiglione, immediately filed suit claiming that the committee had violated open meetings law and should be required to release the minutes of the closed meeting to the public.
- The trial court ruled in favor of the committee and the plaintiffs appealed the decision.
Ruling of the court
The trial court ruled in favor of the committee, claiming that the grievance hearing was not subject to the open meeting law.
The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the trial court and ruled in favor of the committee.
The Supreme Court claimed that the grievance hearing fell under the collective bargaining exemption found in the Massachusetts Open Meetings Act, under section 23B because the collective bargaining exemption is designed to include not only bargaining for contracts but also any grievance hearings associated with the terms of those contracts. The court thus ruled that, despite procedural problems of not scheduling the closed meeting whose damage was minimal, the committee acted within the law in holding a closed, executive session.