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August 13, 2022

AG: Public Bodies must permit “any interested member of the public contemporaneous access to remote meetings”

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On August 25, 2020

Bloomingdale, IL. (ECWd) –

Bloomingdale School District #13 held a public meeting on July 27, 2020, in which it knew would draw an unusual amount of public interest, and also public attendance.

The District scheduled a Zoom meeting, but capped attendance at 100 people. The cap essentially prevented some people from attending the meeting electronically, and may have also prevented some people from providing public comment.

The AG pointed to the Gerwin v Livingston case where the issue of reasonableness was applied to public meetings. It also recited the newest amendment to the Open Meetings Act, which requires that public bodies who hold remote meetings, do so in a manner which provides any member of the public contemporaneous (real time access) access to remote meetings necessitated by public health emergencies such as the current pandemic.

Finally, the AG determined that the District violated the Open Meetings Act by limiting electronic attendees, and also by restricting public comment. It also determined that since the school district had obtained a Zoom license for more than 500 people, that no further remedial action was necessary.

Read the Opinion below (or HERE):

64050 o 7e4 improper 206g pub comment improper sd_Redacted

 

 

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4 Comments
  • Publius
    Posted at 19:55h, 25 August

    I took a cursory look and do not see Bloomington School district 13s bylaws online. If they adopted Roberts Rules of Order and did not provide a provision in the bylaws (doubtful they thought of it) for remote video attendance then they broke their them too.

  • Tracey Baker
    Posted at 21:11h, 25 August

    Sorry, I robbed the bank, Mr. AG, but I did return the money bag to them.
    Well in that case Mr. Bank Robber you are free to go!

    Once again there is no punishment for a public body the breaks the law, intended or not. just because you “fix” the indiscretion should not let you off the hook. If you take an elected position in government know the rules of that position and keep updated on the changes. If in doubt ask or go that extra mile to CYA!

    • NMWTLS
      Posted at 08:37h, 26 August

      Tracey Baker you are so right! And it goes on and on, over and over again with no consequences to the offenders. Until there are appreciable consequences to the offenders, the office of the Public Access Counselor is engaging in a facade designed to make us think we have some recourse in these issues. One has to question why the AG is so reluctant to take part in enforcement of the OMA and FOIA. Could it be that If the offending entities were held accountable with actual consequences and damages, they would start to follow the rules, obey the laws and toe the line, thus making the Public Access Coordinator’s office unneeded? Or at least unneeded to the extent they now enjoy.

  • jannie
    Posted at 09:41h, 26 August

    Only making an assumption here, but perhaps they limited the meeting to 100, because that was the Zoom package they purchased. Don’t know, but my understanding is there are different packages, depending on the amount spent. Actually I was surprised that over 100 people were attending a school board mtg. Most hardly get anyone. I agaree people should be able to attend remotely when the mtgs are virtual like they are for now.

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