Board’s Public Announcement After Closed Session Violated “Public Recital” Requirement of the Open Meetings Act

In Public Access Opinion 19-004, the Illinois Attorney General found that a school board had violated Section 3.5(e) of the Open Meetings Act (5 ILCS 120/3.5(e)) by giving an inadequate public recital before voting on a resolution.

After meeting in closed session, the Board of Education of Pickneyville Community High School District No. 101 returned to open session.  The Board then gave a public recital that it would vote on whether to adopt a resolution authorizing a Notice of Remedy against a teacher, but the Board’s public recital only contained the resolution’s name.  After the Public Access Counselor received a Request for Review from a reporter, the Attorney General found that the Board’s public recital violated the Open Meetings Act.  Although the Board was not required to read the entire text of the resolution in open session before voting, the Attorney General recognized that the Board had to provide sufficient information to identify the particular transaction.  Because the Board omitted the teacher’s name, the Board insufficiently identified the particular transaction that related to its vote on the resolution concerning the Notice of Remedy.

School boards routinely act on matters in open session after deliberating on them in closed session.  This opinion clarifies that the Open Meetings Act requires a school board to sufficiently inform the public of the business being conducted before voting on a resolution.  While a school board does not have to provide details or read an entire resolution out loud in open session, a school board still must identify the particular matter that it is deliberating.  To ensure compliance with the Open Meetings Act in personnel matters, a school board may have to publicly identify the particular employee is the subject of board action in open session before voting.

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