Adequacy of a motion to go into closed session
A former employee sued school board members alleging that two of their closed board meetings violated the Open Meetings Act. In the first meeting, the school board voted to go into closed session “to discuss an employee matter, specifically the reclassification of employment” without giving a statutory citation. The court found that the Act does not require a statutory citation; it requires “a citation to the specific exception contained in” the Act. Said the court: “By referring to an ‘employee matter’ and ‘reclassification of employment,’ defendants adequately identified the exception in section 2(c)(1). An additional citation to the statutory subsection might have been helpful but was not required. Citing the exception was sufficient.”
The second meeting being scrutinized violated the Open Meetings Act because the reason given for going into closed session – “litigation” – was not supported by required information. Said the court: “The ‘litigation’ exception is a forked path. If the litigation has been filed and is pending, the public body need only announce that in the proposed closed meeting, it will discuss litigation that has been filed and is pending. If the litigation has not yet been filed, the public body must (1) find that the litigation is probable or imminent and (2) record and enter into the minutes the basis for that finding. Evidently, the legislature intended to prevent public bodies from using the distant possibility of litigation as a pretext for closing their meetings to the public.” The court remanded the case to the trial court for a remedy determination.