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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

PAC Finds Public Body in Violation of OMA for Approving Closed Session Minutes in Closed Session

The Illinois Attorney General's Public Access Counselor (PAC) issued its 14th binding opinion of 2023 finding a public body in violation of the OMA for taking final action to approve closed session meeting minutes in closed session. PAC Op. 23-014.

A trustee filed a complaint with the PAC alleging that his board voted to approve the closed session meeting minutes of a prior board meeting while in closed session in violation of the OMA. According to the PAC opinion, the board took a vote on the minutes in closed session but did not take any action in open session to approve the closed session minutes. The PAC determined that the vote in closed session to approve the closed session meeting minutes constituted "final action" that section 2(e) of the OMA provides cannot be taken in closed session.

The PAC rejected the public body's argument that section 2(c)(21) of the OMA (reprinted below) expressly authorizes approval of the minutes in closed session, finding that this section only allows discussion of whether the public body will approve the minutes but it does not authorize final action on those minutes which, the PAC said, must be taken in open session under an agenda item that identifies the final action to be taken. The PAC directed the board to include the closed session meeting minutes on its next board meeting agenda for approval in open session.

(21) Discussion of minutes of meetings lawfully closed under this Act, whether for purposes of approval by the body of the minutes or semi-annual review of the minutes as mandated by Section 2.06.

Although not raised in the trustee's complaint, the PAC also noted that the board failed to cite to the above-referenced OMA section when it went into closed session and also did not include a reference to the approval of closed session meeting minutes on the agenda for this meeting.


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