The Memorial Society, Inc., 66 Marlboro Street, Boston, Mass. 617-859-7990
 

Board of Registration in Embalming and Funeral Directing

Public Records and Open Meeting Violations

The business of this Board is conducted almost entirely in secret.
They now deny access to these public records:

  • Meeting Agendas
  • Meeting Minutes
  • Inspection Reports (or even the blank form)
  • List of Disciplinary Cases referred for prosecution
  • Disciplinary Charges (Order to Show Cause)
  • Disciplinary Final Decisions
  • Disciplinary Consent Agreements or Negotiated Settlements

Pre-need Annual Reports from funeral homes are available but at an unaffordable price.
    Funeral Monitor story by permission.
    The actual response letter
    The Report form

Large portions of Board meetings are in closed Executive Sessions in which the Board hears the accusations and makes its first level decision, whether to prosecute, in disciplinary cases.  This same Board later decides guilt and sanctions.  But  the  Executive Sessions are held under the exemption "To discuss strategy with respect to . . . litigation," not under the exemption "To consider the discipline of. . . an individual . . ."  Only under the latter exemption must the accused be notified and given the opportunity to attend, and he even has the right to require that the meeting be open.  Using the litigation strategy exemption denies the accused due process by allowing the Board (which will decide the case) to hear the accusations in secret.
Minutes of a meeting with executive sessions (when Minutes were still available)

What to do?

Massachusetts should abolish the Board.  Its secrecy, its failure to enforce consumer protections, and its blocking of innovation in funeral service are ample reasons for abolition. The Board’s thinking remains where it started, a century ago, that embalming is the key element of funeral service and that funerals should be the way they used to be.  Funeral homes must have elaborate embalming rooms of specific dimensions, and chapels of so many square feet. But they don’t have to have refrigeration. Times have changed.  Many people now choose direct cremation with later memorial service and so need neither an embalming room nor a chapel.  Requiring those facilities needlessly raises the cost, as does requiring all funeral directors to be qualified embalmers.

Colorado abolished its Funeral Board a decade ago, but business goes on with no more abuses than before. Full service funeral homes continue to co-exist with others offering minimal facilities and service at a lower cost because of lesser overhead. Massachusetts should follow Colorado’s lead and abolish the Board of Registration.

[last updated 2007-10-24]

Protecting a consumer's right to choose a dignified, meaningful, affordable funeral