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The RoundTable reported that the District 65 Board of Education discussed and decided to create two new administrative positions in a closed session meeting last week.
Superintendent Devon Horton is quoted as justifying this departure from the requirements of the Open Meetings Act “because all district decisions related to personnel are conducted behind closed doors.”
Wrong! The Act is quite clear that all matters are to be discussed in open session unless they fall within a specific exception in the Act. The exception to which Horton appears to be referring is limited to discussion of the “appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance or dismissal of specific employees.”
Under the Superintendent’s understanding of the Act, apparently shared by the board, the exception would swallow the rule. For example, any discussion of the budget could be done in closed session, since the vast majority of the budget goes for personnel.
Sadly, this is hardly the first time this board and superintendent have essentially blown off the Open Meetings Act.
The Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) offers regular training for boards in the requirements of the Act. I would encourage the District 65 Board to avail itself of this training, and even invite an IASB representative to attend subsequent closed sessions of the board to make sure they’ve understood what they’ve been taught.
Former D65 and D202 School Board Member