April 23, 2012
By: Adam Dauksas
This is the final eBlackboard in a three-part series discussing recent developments relating to the Open Meetings Act.
As of January 1, 2011, Section 2.06(b) of the Open Meetings Act requires boards of education, and all other public bodies, to approve the minutes of an open meeting within 30 days after that meeting or at its second subsequent regular meeting, whichever is later. In addition, the Act requires that the minutes of an open meeting be made available for public inspection within 10 days after the approval of those minutes by the board. Despite these requirements having taken effect over a year ago, we continue to see non-compliance with them.
Prior to these specific amendments to the Act, all that was required of public bodies was to make available to the public their open meeting minutes within seven days of the approval of those minutes. But there was no time limit within which open meeting minutes had to be approved. Thus, public bodies could avoid publicizing their open meeting minutes for indefinite periods of time, yet still technically comply with Act.
Section 2.06(b) also now requires school districts that have a website that is maintained by its full-time staff to post the minutes of a regular open meeting on its website within 10 days after the approval of those minutes, and any open meeting minutes that are posted on the district’s website must remain up on the website for at least 60 days after their initial posting. Under the previous version of the Act, districts had only seven days to post approved minutes to their websites.
In sum, it is important to remember that the Act now requires that school districts: (1) approve open meeting minutes within 30 days of the meeting or at their second subsequent meeting, whichever is a longer time period; (2) make open meeting minutes available for public inspection within 10 days of approval of those minutes; and (3) within 10 days after approval, post the minutes on the district’s website for a period of not less than 60 days.
Should you have any questions regarding these requirements or any other aspect of the Open Meetings Act, please do not hesitate to contact Scariano, Himes and Petrarca, Chtd.