CHAMPAIGN, IL. (ECWd) –
On April 17, 2017, Parkland College’s Board of Trustees held what they called an “Emergency” meeting to discuss Ms. Rochelle Harden’s decision to neither resign as Professor nor to resign her newly elected position as trustee of the college.
Before continuing, it is our belief and opinion that the position of elected trustee of a community college is incompatible with also being employed by that same community college. We believe it is a conflict of interest and violates of Section 3 of the Public Officer Prohibited Activities Act and Section 3-48 of the Public Community College Act, which prohibits direct or indirect interest in a contract, work, or business of the College while serving as a Trustee.
Back to the “Emergency Meeting”… the college contended they had no choice but to hold an emergency meeting, calling it an emergency because they had just received information from Harden saying she would not resign.
My position was that there was plenty of time between their receipt of her letter and the next public meeting to meet and discuss with a 48-hour notice to the public. They also knew this situation could develop from the time she turned in her election petition packet.
The Attorney General determined this was not a “bona fide” emergency – which was defined as “an unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state requiring immediate attention.”
This makes the second time, in two separate public bodies, this Attorney has made the wrong call when it pertains to the Open Meetings Act. A previous incident involved the Clark County Park District Board and their lack of anything on their agenda informing the public of what they were about to vote on (unanimous decision of the Appellate Court overturned the Circuit Court and ruled in our favor), and now this community college attempting to claim an emergency where no emergency existed.
Read the Opinion below:
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