How to Hold a Public Hearing

Training Overview

  • Audience: Massachusetts local and regional board of health members and staff, health department personnel and anyone interested in learning about holding hearings in the state.
  • Format: Online, self-paced
  • Price: Free
  • Length: 1 hour
  • Contact hours: Massachusetts CHO, RS
  • Competencies: Legal Issues
  • Learning level: Awareness
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Companion training: Public Health Law and Legal Issues in Massachusetts
  • Supplemental materials:

Holding hearings is an important function of local Boards of Health (LBOH) in Massachusetts. Boards may hold hearings upon their own initiative or upon petition by any party wishing to be heard concerning a public health matter. Hearings may be either quasi-judicial (concerning orders, licenses, permits or other such matters) or quasi-legislative (involving new or existing local health regulations). LBOH should schedule, conduct, and follow up on both types of hearings in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.

Enroll To receive a certificate of completion. This requires registration to establish a learner profile and completion of pre- and post-tests
Audit To view as an online resource without a certificate of completion

What you’ll learn

After completing this training, you will be able to:

  • Explain the difference between a routine Board of Health meeting and a hearing
  • Describe the proper conduct of a quasi-legislative hearing
  • Define the circumstances for conducting a quasi-judicial hearing
  • Identify laws and regulations related to conduct of hearings
  • Describe best practices for conducting a public hearing

Subject Matter Experts

  • Cheryl Sbarra
    Director of Policy and Law
    Massachusetts Association of Health Boards (MAHB)

  • DJ Wilson
    Public Health Liaison and Tobacco Control Director
    Massachusetts Municipal Association



This training was supported by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) with funds made available by the Cooperative Agreement Number TP921913, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services.
This project is/was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UB6HP27877 “Regional Public Health Training Center Program.” This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.