A Board Meeting is a meeting held in public, not a public meeting.
As a service to the public, the Board of Education provides this explanation of the various matters of protocol pertaining to meeting of the Board. Anyone who is interested in attending a Board Meeting and who does not find an answer to a question they may have about Board Meetings is encouraged to call the Superintendent at the Oakwood CUSD No. 76 Unit Office at 217.446.6081.
Can anyone attend a Board Meeting? All meetings of the Board of Education are open to the public and are convened in open session. There may be a motion to enter into “closed session” once the meeting is called to order in open session to discuss matters that are exempt from the Open Meetings Act, but the Board will return to open session to conduct its official business, take official action, and to adjourn. A member of the general public does not need special permission to attend a meeting of the Board of Education.
How can I get “put on the agenda?” A member of the general public may contact either the Superintendent of Schools or the Board President to notify them of their desire to address the Board. There is a place on the agenda of every meeting for “Public Comment.” The Board President will recognize any individual(s) who expressed interest to speak to the Board. The Board President will limit any comments to the Board to 3 minutes. A number of people sharing the same viewpoint and all expressing a desire to address the Board may be asked by the Board President to appoint a spokesperson. A person wishing to comment on the employment, performance, dismissal, discipline, assignment, or compensation of specific employees of the district may be asked to address the Board in Closed Session. The person will be allowed to address the Board, which will listen without comment. There are some very special circumstances in which a member of the public will be placed on another section of the agenda, but this is at the discretion of the Board President and Superintendent and is a very unusual occurrence. The best way for a matter of interest to a member of the general public to be actively discussed and considered by the Board is for a member of the Board to ask to have the issue placed in the agenda.
How can I get a copy of the agenda for the upcoming Board Meeting? By law, board meeting agendas must be posted no later than 48 hours prior to the start of the meeting. Board Meeting agendas are posted on the district website and at the Unit Office.
Why are Boards allowed to go into “Closed Session?” The Open Meetings Act identifies a number of topics that are exempt from consideration in open session. Among these are:
Appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance, or dismissal of a specific employee of the district
Collective bargaining and discussion of salary schedules for one or more classes of employees
Selection of a person to fill a public office, or dismissal, performance and removal of a person from a public office, if the public body has that authority
The purchase or lease of a piece of real property for use by the school district, including discussions whether the property should be acquired
The setting of a price for sale or lease of property owned by the district
The sale or purchase of securities, investments, or investment contracts
Security procedures and response to an actual, threatened or reasonably potential danger to the safety of staff, students, the public and school property
Student disciplinary cases
The placement of individual students in special education programs and other matters pertaining to individual students
Litigation that is filed, pending, or probable that is against, affecting or on behalf of the district
A Board self-evaluation when meeting with a representative of the Illinois Association of School Boards
The Board can only enter Closed Session upon a motion made by a member of the Board and approved by a majority of the Board members. The motion must state the reason, which must be one of the reasons exempted by law from the Open Meetings Act. While in Closed, the Board can only discuss topics that correspond to the reasons cited for entering Closed Session. After the conclusion of Closed Session deliberations, the Board will entertain a motion to re-enter Open Session.
The Unit 76 Board usually leaves the Board Room and retires to another location to hold Closed Session deliberations. There may be occasions upon which the Board President will ask the public to leave the Board Room so that the Board may enter into Closed Session deliberations.
What role does the attending public play at Board Meetings? Anyone attending a Board Meeting is a witness to how the Board conducts the school district’s business. Board Meetings are not “public” meetings. A member of the public who is in attendance can only give input if the Board President recognizes them; otherwise, Board Meetings are meetings of the Board and Board members act in trust for the voters.
Is there any other Board of Education information available to the public? Yes, the Board posts all Bills payable, agendas, minutes and information on Board Members on-line at www.oakwood.k12.il.us. Members of the public are encouraged to contact the Superintendent at the Unit Office (217.446.6081) if they have any questions. Board members may also be contacted. Board members will listen to concerns and direct the person to the appropriate district employee. Board Members have no authority when they are not in a legally-convened meeting of the Board of Education.