State press lawyer: Urbana school meeting notice doesn't meet law

State press lawyer: Urbana school meeting notice doesn't meet law

URBANA — An attorney for the Illinois Press Association says the Urbana school district will violate the Illinois Open Meetings Act if it meets Tuesday, as it failed to post the agenda for the meeting to its website 48 hours in advance, as the law requires.

The school district sent out its agenda, as well as notice about an executive session and a public hearing, both scheduled for Tuesday evening, via email Friday afternoon.

However, the agenda wasn't posted to its website until about 3:30 p.m. Monday, 28 hours before the board was scheduled to meet.

Don Craven, the press association attorney, said the Illinois Open Meetings Act states in Section 2.02 that "a public body that has a website that the full-time staff of the public body maintains shall post notice on its website of all meetings of the governing body of the public body" at least 48 hours prior to the meeting.

"They cannot legally meet," said Craven.

Urbana school Superintendent Preston Williams said the board would meet as scheduled. He said the agenda for Tuesday's meeting was sent out by email before the 48-hour deadline.

"We sent all the information out on Friday," he said.

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xb wrote on March 04, 2013 at 6:03 pm

The sentence the attorney quotes in this story does not include a 48 hour requirement (the only listed 48 hour requirement in that subsection is posting a physical copy of the agenda).  The part in quotes in the law ends with a period and does not contain further information about a time. Also the section contains the following text:  "The failure of a public body to post on its website notice of any meeting or the agenda of any meeting shall not invalidate any meeting or any actions taken at a meeting."

xb wrote on March 04, 2013 at 9:03 pm

The attorney's website, http://www.cravenlawoffice.com/ , contains a "Secure Data Encrypted - Network Solutions" seal on most pages, yet the site is unencrypted.  In addition, clicking on the seal results in a message that Network Solutions system believes his site to be invalid.

Challenge All Kids wrote on March 04, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Interesting.  Another interesting fact about Mr. Craven's website is his PDF about the Open Meetings Act.  http://www.cravenlawoffice.com/images/OpenMeetingsAct.pdf  It is dated 2004.  The Open Meetings Act has been updated several times since then.  

Challenge All Kids wrote on March 04, 2013 at 6:03 pm

5 ILCS 120/2.02 (b):

"The failure of a public body to post on its website notice of any meeting or the agenda of any meeting shall not invalidate any meeting or any actions taken at a meeting."

pattsi wrote on March 04, 2013 at 9:03 pm

Here is the specific information.

"Special Meetings
For special meetings, public bodies must give at least 48 hours notice. Notice must be posted at the place where the meeting usually takes placeand delivered to any news medium that files an annual request. Special meetings include a rescheduled regular meeting or a reconvened regular meeting. The notice provision for special
meetings does not apply to an open meeting that is reconvened within 24 hours.

The following is a great web site to answer questions about OMA and FOIA, short of contacting the AG Public Access Office.

http://www.citizenadvocacycenter.org/uploads/8/8/4/0/8840743/journalist_...

Watching Urbana wrote on March 05, 2013 at 12:03 am

When you pick out bits and pieces of a law to try and stir up a story or make unnecessary trouble with a 'public body' just to satisfy your own personal agenda, it's just wrong. Someone somewhere has a beef with #116 and apparently put in a call or an email to the state press lawyer to put him on alert about something, but Craven himself got it wrong.


The law does not say that the agendas have to be posted on the 'public body's' website, if they have one, 48 hours before. I says that the agendas of the meetings have to be posted at the location of the office of the public body and at the location of the meeting at least 48 hours in advance. Read the law at www.ilga.com for yourself.


In this case, as long as there was an agenda posted (a physical piece(s) of paper) at the school districts office and the place where the meeting is to be held 48 hours prior to the meeting time, then everything is OK and there's no story here.


If the agenda was ONLY sent out to the media in emails 48 hours prior but the agenda was not physically posted at the location, then there's a problem. The only way the law says it has to be 'posted' is physically. There is no mention of use of the internet or letter/mail by courier in the law.  


Shame on you again, N-G, for not investigating the facts and then reinterviewing your source, even when the source is an attorney, before publishing this story. 


Waiting for your retraction.