University Professionals of Illinois calls for criminal investigation of WIU Board of Trustees, president

The following is a statement released by the University Professionals of Illinois;

”CHICAGO  — Referring to the recently released closed-meeting audio of the Western Illinois University’s (WIU) Board of Trustees meeting on June 28, 2018, the University Professionals of Illinois, Local 4100 (UPI) announced that they have contacted the McDonough County State’s Attorney’s Office and requested a criminal investigation of possible violations of the Illinois Open Meetings Act.

UPI contends that several violations of the Illinois Open Meetings Act are evident in the audio transcripts and that the WIU Board of Trustees, President, and University Officers present at the meeting should be investigated for flagrant violations of the Act. Under the Illinois Open Meetings Act, violations can result in a Class C misdemeanor conviction which is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

John Miller, state-wide President of UPI said, ‘After listening to the audio recording, there appears to be a conscious practice of conducting University business in closed session, which is in clear violation of the law. What we heard in the recording is very troubling and contrary to the actions of a public board. The public and University community deserves better.’

Specifically, the UPI requests that the investigation consider, but not be limited to :

  • Scripting public meetings;
  • Conducting business/discussions in closed sessions;
  • Planning additional closed meeting sessions to conduct public business/discussions;
  • Conducting small group meetings (“2 plus 2” meetings); and
  • Potentially, the failure to release closed session meeting minutes.

UPI further requests investigations into past closed sessions that have not been released.

‘The WIU Board of Trustees has not released closed meeting minutes for almost three years. When we listened to the discussion on just this one closed door recording, we are understandably concerned that the Board may have a practice of conducting public deliberations behind closed doors. The public and community have a right to know the basis for the decisions the University has made over the last several years,’ Miller said.

In addition to investigating closed sessions of the WIU Board of Trustees, UPI is asking the State’s Attorney to investigate what the Board appears to call “2 plus 2” meetings. According to Miller, the recordings suggest that two members of the Board are meeting together at one time to discuss University issues and sometimes with an administrator in what appears to be an attempt to circumvent the intent of the Open Meetings Act.

‘The language of the recording indicates a desire to purposefully circumvent the Open Meetings Act.,” said Miller. “The Open Meetings Act was passed to hold state officials accountable. When violated, there is no accountability.’

NEWS3 contacted Western Illinois University Public Relations. They declined to comment about UPI’s statement.