In July 2022, the PAC received a complaint alleging that a school district board (School Board) improperly entered closed session during 16 separate meetings to discuss the Illinois General Assembly granting the school district a waiver to build a new school using federal COVID-19 pandemic relief funds. The complaint alleged that before the School Board’s June 27, 2022 announcement, the Board was considering constructing a new school building but no prior School Board agenda items or minutes indicated that the Board discussed or voted on that waiver, or that the School Board even discussed building a new school.

In binding PAC Op. 22-012, The PAC concluded that the School Board exceeded the scope of OMA exception 2(c)(5), which authorizes public bodies to go into closed session to discuss the purchase or lease of real estate by a public body, including meetings held for the purpose of discussing whether a particular parcel should be acquired. Specifically, the PAC determined that the School Board discussed funding for the school, legislative considerations, and various other topics concerning the project that were notconsidered in the context of the narrow topic of purchasing or leasing property for the school. The PAC rejected the School Board’s argument that OMA exception 2(c)(5) allowed these collateral discussions because the School Board would eventually have to acquire property if it were to build a new school.

Post Authored by Eugene Bolotnikov, Ancel Glink