Public Access Opinion 22-012

Improper Closed Session Discussion under the Exemption for Purchasing or Leasing Real Property

Open Meetings Act - OMA
Case: Public Access Opinion 22-012
Date: Friday, September 30, 2022

On July 6, 2022, Requestor submitted a Request for Review to the PAC complaining that the Board of Education of Decatur Public School District No. 61 (School Board) had violated OMA by discussing building a new grade school with COVID-19 relief funds in closed sessions under the section 2(c)(5) exception.

Section 2(c)(5) permits public bodies to close a portion of the meeting to discuss “the purchase or lease of real property for the use of the public body, including meetings held for the purpose of discussing whether a particular parcel should be acquired.”

After reviewing minutes and verbatim recordings from several closed meetings between October 21, 2021 and June 28, 2022, the PAC concluded that the School Board had exceeded the scope of the exception. While discussion about potential sites for the new school may be held in closed sessions, the broader discussion about building a new school with COVID-19 relief funds was beyond the limited scope of the exception.

The PAC ordered the public body to make publicly available the closed session verbatim recordings and closed session minutes of the meetings. The limited portions relevant to acquiring particular properties may be redacted.

This opinion is binding only to the parties involved and may be appealed pursuant to State law.

Michelle Yang, IASB Law Clerk