Elgin, IL. (ECWd) -
During the October 19, 2015 U-46 Board of Education Meetings, the School Board's Chief Legal Officer, Miguel A. Rodriguez, seemed to be a little confused as to the statutory requirements of the Illinois Open Meetings Act, and also certain provisions of the Illinois School Code.
First, the School Code:
...governed by a board of education consisting of 7 members, serving without compensation except as herein provided...
...Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Section 10-22.32, no money for expenses shall be advanced nor shall any member or employee be reimbursed, for any expenses incurred on behalf of any person other than such member, employee, or person deemed to be a school board member for purposes of this Section...
- Reimbursement authorized only for actual and necessary expenses.
Since meals at meetings are not actual or necessary, these meals constitute either a "gift" or "compensation", and are not authorized. These meals violate the School Code and Article VIII, Section 1 of the Illinois Constitution.
The Open Meetings Act problems:
For starters, a "closed session" or "closed meeting" can only occur after convening a meeting in an "Open Meeting", or a session open to the public, stating the exceptions used for the particular closed portion of the meeting, voting on entering into a closed meeting, and reconvening back into an open meeting when the closed session is complete.
There were a total of three meetings scheduled on October 19, 2015.
- 4:30 Finance Committee Meeting
- 5:15 Board Meeting for the stated purpose of going into closed session
- 7:00 Board Meeting to conduct regular business
Each of these three meetings require and mandate the public body provide an opportunity for the public to exercise their RIGHT to address the public body during each of the meetings. No exceptions.
What happened, in short, was the board showed no intent of opening the 5:15 meeting in public and going to closed session. Instead, they were in the closed session room feeding their faces when I walked in and asked them when the meeting was going to start. After some back-and-forth discussion, they put their face-feeding utensils down and went to the meeting room to open the meeting properly.
After opening the meeting, they voted to enter closed session and refused to allow public comment, even stating there would be no public comment until the 7 p.m. meeting.
This willful decision of the board was a crime, a violation of law, a Class C criminal misdemeanor, and made the board subject to arrest.
Now the attorney is trying to lie to the public, and deny there were three meetings scheduled.
So, using his argument, IF there were only two meetings, then they committed the crime of starting the meeting at 5:15 instead of the published 7:00 p.m. start time.