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December 3, 2022

COD Chairman Erin Birt Violates Open Meetings Act – Discriminates Based On Class –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On August 23, 2014

COLLEGE OF DUPAGE (ECWd) –

During the August 21, 2014 College of DuPage Board of Trustees meeting, Chairman Erin Birt, who also happens to be an attorney, demonstrated her complete incompetence in running a simple meeting of the Board. It even appeared to be quite obvious that she has never read the Open Meetings Act.

Several times during the meeting she successfully demonstrated the ability to willfully violate the law.

Segregation by class

One such incident was the public comment session(s) where comments were segregated by “class” and placed in such an order perceived as to allow comments supportive of the board to come before comments critical of the board. The policy is discriminatory, is not consistent with the law, and is an unreasonable rule established by COD policy.

As I read in my comments while urging the trustees to look at this policy and change it, any rules must provide further notice to the public and enhance access to public meetings.

This is further supported by a recent Illinois Attorney General Determination Letter we obtained when the Vermilion County Board Chairman (HERE)  attempted to force all non-residents “to the back of the bus” during public comment session. The Attorney General stated that even if the board had a rule established placing people to speak based on class, it could create “significant legal issues” because it is inconsistent with the Act and would be an unreasonable rule (determination letter here).

Violating established COD Board of Trustee Protocol and Previous Board Majority Vote

Chairman Erin Birt also violated establish COD policy by cutting off public comment to conduct board business, then returning to public comment.

Item Number 10 of the COD Board of Trustees Meeting Protocol. This is the board of trustees’ own policy. President Birt DID NOT follow the board of trustees policy, and violated it of her own accord even after Richard Skoka and others asked her to follow the agenda they had voted to approve only minutes earlier.

At the beginning of the meeting the board voted to approve the agenda AS IT WAS WRITTEN , PUBLISHED AND APPROVED, then Birt recklessly, intentionally, and in bad faith violated not only what the board had just approved, but the written COD board protocol (view protocol here). Did this decision of Birt’s serve to provide further notice of, and enhance access to, public meetings?

Finally, Birt made an immediate arbitrary decision, putting unestablished and unrecorded rules in place for public comments, even on the objections of fellow board members, and without taking a vote. All based on her attempt to silence objectors and pass a controversial illegal resolution of censure.

 

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