To “redact,” a verb defined by Merriam Webster as: 1) to put in writing: frame, 2) to select or adapt (as by obscuring or removing sensitive information) for publication or release; broadly: edit, 3) to obscure or remove (text) from a document prior to publication or release.
Redaction in the context of a HOA occurs when the board of directors produces and distributes the board of directors’ meeting minutes to the membership. The term “redact” is used to describe removal of certain text from the approved meeting minutes, by replacing the text with black rectangles or using a “Word” editing function to make the text unreadable. A very prevalent example of this is classified government documents that are released under the freedom of information act that have classified or sensitive information redacted in this manner.
The board secretary who drafted the original meeting minutes is typically the board member responsible for redacting the sensitive information. This redaction should only be performed after the meeting minutes are finalized and approved. In certain circumstances, the secretary may add additional text to approved minutes after this redaction. The reason for adding this additional text is usually to clarify what was redacted in the first place. For example, if an HOA member was sent to the attorney for collections, this member’s name and address would be redacted and the secretary or redactor may note at the place of redaction what was redacted. Such as; “Board voted to send a delinquent member to the HOA’s attorney for collections.” These additions are not part of the official meeting minutes and should be concise and not embellished.
Sensitive information that should be redacted before distribution to the membership is generally any matter that is of a legal nature or could potentially be a legal issue. Collection issues and lawsuits should be redacted along with covenant enforcement matters because of the potential for litigation. Failing to redact these types of matters could possibly result in a violation of Federal and State Statute regarding public disclosure of delinquent parties. Disclosing legal matters in the board minutes could also result in the board of directors unintentionally waiving the attorney-client privilege.
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