Public Access Opinion 23-013

Restriction of Public Comment Limited to Established and Recorded Rules

Open Meetings Act - OMA
Case: Public Access Opinion 23-013
Date: Wednesday, September 13, 2023

On June 16, 2023, Requestor submitted a Request for Review to the Public Access Counselor) PAC alleging that the Board of Education of Wheaton Warrenville Community Unit School District No. 200 (“Board”) had violated Section 2.06(g) of the Open Meetings Act (OMA) during its June 14, 2023 meeting by restricting public comment without authorization from established and recorded rules.

During the June 14, 2023 meeting, Requestor was interrupted while addressing the Board during the period for public comment after she referenced a district hiring policy. The Board stated that personnel issues must be discussed one-on-one with the board and not during the period for public comment. This was noted in the annotated agenda but not in the Board’s formally adopted policy manual.

Section 2.06(g) of OMA provides that “any person shall be permitted an opportunity to address public officials under the rules established and recorded by the public body.”

On review, the PAC noted that the plain language of Section 2.06(g) required that policies be established and recorded. The PAC found that the annotated agenda was not formally adopted, so it was not established and recorded. While the policy manual was formally adopted, it did not include any policy regarding personnel issues. Enforcing a restriction on personnel issues that was not established and recorded went against Section 2.06(g).

The PAC ordered the Board to refrain from applying unestablished and unrecorded rules to restrict public comment at future meetings and conduct its future meetings in full compliance with OMA.

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

Michelle Yang, IASB Law Clerk