On September 8, 2016, the Illinois Attorney General issued a non-binding opinion finding that the RIF Joint Committee of Community Consolidated School District 46 is a public body subject to the Open Meetings Act, and was, therefore, in violation of OMA when it held a meeting without abiding by the requirements of OMA.
The Open Meetings Act applies to all public bodies, including “all legislative, executive, administrative or advisory bodies of the State, counties, townships, cities, villages, incorporated towns, school districts.” The committee at issue was the “RIF Joint Committee” that is required by Section 24-12(c) of the School Code. Specifically, the School Code mandates the RIF Joint Committee’s duties and that it be “composed of equal representation selected by the school board and its teachers or, if applicable, the exclusive bargaining representative of its teachers.” The school district argued that the RIF Joint Committee was not an advisory body subject to OMA because the school board does not control it, and it does not report to or receive direction from the board. The school district also argued that even if the RIF Joint Committee is a public body, as defined by OMA, its meetings were exempt from OMA requirements because the meetings consisted of collective bargaining.
The Attorney General found that the RIF Joint Committee was subject to OMA as an advisory or subsidiary body of the school district because its “operations and functions are inextricably connected to those of the district.” Moreover, the RIF Joint Committee makes binding decisions and is part of the formal organizational structure of the district. The Attorney General also found that the RIF Joint Committee did not conduct collective bargaining because the committee’s function was limited by the School Code to a narrow set of decisions. Thus, the RIF Joint Committee’s function was not collective bargaining concerning “wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.” As a result, the meeting at issue was not exempt from the requirements of OMA under the collective bargaining exception.
This opinion, while non-binding, is a strong indication that the Attorney General would find RIF Joint Committees, as well as any other committees mandated by statute—such as the PERA Joint Committee—to be subject to the requirements of OMA.
Please contact Steve Richart or Kerry Pipal with your OMA inquiries.