Now that newly elected or appointed officers have taken or are about to take the oath of office, we have gotten a number of questions about the required Open Meetings Act training that all members of public bodies must take within 90 days of taking office.
We’ve summarized the OMA training requirement for public body members below.
Section 1.05(b) of the Illinois Open Meetings Act requires all members of public bodies (which includes elected and appointed officials who serve on city councils, village boards, park, school, and library boards, township boards, county boards, as well as advisory commissions like a plan commission or zoning board of appeals, among others) all must complete the electronic training course developed by the Public Access Counselor of the Illinois Attorney General (PAC) within 90 days after the official takes the oath of office or assumes responsibilities of the position. The member must then file a copy of the certificate of completion of the course with the public body.
The problem is that the Illinois Attorney General’s website was hacked, so the PAC’s electronic OMA training has been inaccessible for months. This is the message members of public bodies see when they try to access the online training required by the OMA:
We are sorry this section of the Illinois Attorney General’s is currently down.
Notice to public body members and Open Meetings Act (OMA) designees who are required by section 1.05 of OMA (5 ILCS 120/1.05) to complete the Public Access Counselor’s (PAC) electronic training curriculum:
The PAC web page is presently being repaired, therefore the OMA electronic training, as well as the Freedom of Information Act electronic training, are inaccessible. There is no set completion date for the website repairs at this time. Please note public body members and designees are not penalized for failure to complete the electronic training within the statutory time periods.
Please call 1-877-299-3642 if you have any questions
The OMA does authorize an alternative training option for some members of public bodies (but not all, unfortunately). These are as follows:
1. Municipalities. An elected or appointed member of a municipal public body can satisfy the training requirements by participating in a training course sponsored or conducted by an organization that represents municipalities designated in Section 1-8-1 of the Illinois Municipal Code.
2. School Districts. An elected school board member can satisfy the OMA training by participating in a course of training sponsored or conducted by an organization created under Article 23 of the School Code.
3. Park Districts, Forest Preserve Districts, Conservation Districts. An elected or appointed member of a park district, forest preserve district, or conservation district board can satisfy the OMA training by participating in a course of training sponsored or conducted by an organization that represents park districts created in the Park District Code.
4. Drainage Districts. A drainage district commissioner can satisfy the OMA training by participating in a course of training sponsored or conducted by an organization that represents the drainage districts created under the Illinois Drainage Code.
5. Soil and Water Conservation Districts. A director of a soil and water conservation district can satisfy the OMA training by participating in a course of training sponsored or conducted by an organization that represents these districts created under the Soil and Water Conservation District Act.
6. Fire Protection Districts. A member of a fire protection district board of trustees can satisfy the OMA training by participating in a training sponsored or conducted by an organization that represents fire protection districts created under the Fire Protection District Act.
So, if you are a member of one of the public bodies listed above, you may have an alternative to the Attorney General OMA training and might want to contact one of the eligible organizations to ask about their training programs (i.e., the Illinois Municipal League (IML) for municipalities). Unfortunately, members of public bodies not covered by an alternative training option under the OMA (like library districts, for example) will have to wait for the PAC to get their online training up and running – or seek legislative relief to add an option for a public body that is not covered by an alternative training option.