Violation of Open Meetings Law, Little High Neighborhood Association Steering Committee v. Region Ten Community Services Board
Under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, all meetings of public bodies must be open, unless certain topics- including personnel matters and pending or threatened litigation- are to be discussed. When a public body wishes to hold a closed meeting, it must take a formal vote on the matter in open session. The Region Ten Community Services Board, which includes the City of Charlottesville, recently held a closed meeting which included discussion of a proposed residential facility for people with disabilities. The motion approving the closed meeting simply stated that "personnel and legal issues" would be discussed. It failed to identify the subject matter as required by statute. Further, there is reason to believe that matters were discussed that are not permitted at closed meetings under FOIA. An internal e-mail from a person present at the meeting indicated that there was discussion of "financing, the press coverage, and the neighborhood association." The Little High Neighborhood Association Steering Committee filed a suit in Circuit Court under FOIA. A hearing was held on September 20, 2006. On November 2, the Court ruled that the Region Ten Community Services Board had violated FOIA by failing to adequately identify the subject matter or purpose of the closed meeting.