Illinois Supreme Court to Review OMA Case Involving a School Board’s Signing of a Separation Agreement During Closed Session

On May 25, 2016, the Illinois Supreme Court announced that it will review a recent appellate court decision finding that a school board did not violate the Open Meetings Act when it signed a separation agreement during closed session, because it subsequently approved the agreement in open session.

In Board of Education of Springfield School District No. 186 v. The Attorney General of Illinois, which we previously reported on here, the appellate court found in favor of the Board of Education, reversing two binding opinions of the Attorney General that the Board violated the Open Meetings Act in its approval of a separation agreement with the district’s superintendent.  The court found that the act of signing the separation agreement in closed session did not constitute a final action; instead, the final action occurred when the Board voted to approve the separation agreement during the open session of a subsequent Board meeting.  Further, the appellate court found that the Board did not violate OMA by failing to adequately inform the public of the separation agreement, despite failing to provide details about the agreement during the Board meeting, because a copy of the agreement was posted on the district’s website prior to final action being taken.

This case is an important reminder that final action can only be taken during open session.  It also reminds boards to make a public recital of the nature of the matter being considered for final action before that action is taken.

The Supreme Court has not yet set a date for oral arguments.  We will continue to provide updates on this case as it progresses.

Please contact Bob Kohn or Kerry Burnet with your Open Meetings Act inquiries.

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