Public Access Opinion 23-005

Improper Closed Session Discussion of Various Topics Under the Exception for Setting the Price for Sale or Lease of Property

Open Meetings Act - OMA
Case: Public Access Opinion 23-005
Date: Tuesday, April 25, 2023

On February 10, 2023, a petitioner submitted a Request for Review to the Public Access Counselor (PAC) alleging that the Board of Trustees for the Lyons Township High School District 204 (Board) violated the Open Meetings Act (OMA) on multiple occasions, including by exceeding the scope of the exception that it cited to enter closed session twice at its January 23, 2023, meeting.

Section 2(a) of OMA requires that all meetings of public bodies be open to the public unless the subject of the meeting is covered by one of the limited exceptions enumerated in Section 2(c). Exceptions are to be strictly construed, extending only to subjects clearly within their scope. Section 2(c)(6) permits a public body to close a portion of a meeting to discuss “[t]he setting of a price for sale or lease of a property owned by the public body.”

On January 23, 2023, the Board closed two portions of its meeting to the public to discuss what the Board’s response to the PAC characterized as the next steps in marketing and selling a parcel of property. The Board also discussed in closed session additional topics related to the potential sale of the property, but it did not discuss setting the price of the property.

The PAC concluded that the Board violated Section 2(a) of OMA by discussing possible courses of action and scenarios that might occur following the Board’s potential rejection of bids, which do not fall within the scope of Section 2(c)(6) of OMA, or any other exception to the general requirement that public bodies conduct public business openly.

The PAC directed the Board to disclose to petitioner and make publicly available the closed session verbatim recordings and closed session minutes of its January 23, 2023, meeting.

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

Mary H. Bandstra, IASB Law Clerk