The Attorney General’s office says the Springfield School Board acted illegally when negotiating Superintendent Walter Milton’s exit.
The AG says the board violated Open Meeting laws by approving the 177-thousand dollar separation agreement in a closed door session. It also broke laws by not recording the closed door meetings. Board member Scott MacFarland says he didn’t agree with the process then and still doesn’t.
“I didn’t agree with how the board was moving forward with the separation from the superintendent,” says McFarland. “Not in terms of Open Meetings, but just in the way the separation happened.”
Meanwhile, a Springfield attorney thinks the Attorney General made the right decision.
Esther Seitz says the AG’s office only issues 15 to 20 binding opinions per year, and rarely on issues dealing with the Open Meetings Act. Seitz believes it was the number of mistakes made that compelled Madigan’s office to act.
“The failure to record, then obviously the closed session signing of the contract, and then not keeping the proper minutes… I think here we have a multitude of violations,” says Seitz. “I think that made this a pretty good case for a binding opinion.”
Seitz says the Attorney General’s binding opinion will give legal guidance that is authoritative to other public bodies in similar situations, but the board likely won’t face fines or legal action.