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Published each Thursday in Oswego, Illinois 60543
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Law mandates public Co-op deliberations : Editorials : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Law mandates public Co-op deliberations
8/21/2014

The Oswego School District's proposed withdrawal from the Kendall County Special Education Co-operative and the proposed reorganization of the co-op were on the agenda for discussion during a meeting of the co-op's governing board last Wednesday in Yorkville.

As a large crowd of interested special education teachers looked on, the governing board-compromised of the superintendents or their representations from the co-op's member school districts and the regional superintendent and assistant regional superintendent of schools-spent a portion of their meeting discussing how they can legally meet to discuss the pending restructuring of the organization without violating the Illinois Open Meetings Act (OMA).

Under state law, the co-op board is subject to the OMA, which, according to the Illinois Attorney General's Office, "is designed to prohibit the secret deliberations and actions on matters which, due to their potential impact on the public, properly should be discussed in a public forum."

The OMA applies not only to the co-op board itself but to "any subsidiary bodies of any of the forgoing (public bodies) including but not limited to committee and subcommittees which are supported in whole or part by tax revenue or which expend tax revenue." In other words, the act applies to any committee or subcommittee the co-op board may establish.

We're certain the co-op board would find it significantly easier to discuss the co-operative's restructuring behind closed doors. But we will remind them the taxpayers of their respective school districts pay their salaries and benefits and they are doing the public's business every day they show up for work. In this particular case, their actions will directly affect the lives of special education students and teachers throughout the county for years and perhaps generations to come. Therefore, the public should have and does have the legal right to hear the co-op board's deliberations.

In discussing their pending meetings and the OMA, we hope the co-op board's intent was merely to make sure they fully comply with the OMA and was not an attempt by some to prevent the public from sitting in on their deliberations concerning the co-op's future.




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