JALC Board Approves Release of March 2016 Executive Session Tape
July 25, 2019
The John A. Logan College Board of Trustees unanimously approved a motion to release the verbatim audio recording of the March 2, 2016, Executive Session held by the Board. The action was taken due to a non-binding opinion issued in relation to an alleged violation of the Open Meetings Act by the Board of Trustees on that date. The opinion was the result of a complaint filed by former student trustee, Brandi Hüsch.
The vote was taken after Board Chair Bill Kilquist issued a statement and endorsed the release of the tape.
“It has never been the intention of any trustee to violate the (Open Meetings) Act as was the case in the March 2016 Executive Session,” said Kilquist. “In stating their (Illinois Attorney General) decision reference was made to a Board member criticizing Miss Hüsch’s past judgments as part of the discussion, and that board member was me.”
Kilquist went on to state that this occurred during an incredibly stressful time when state lawmakers refused to pass a budget despite the best effort of Trustees to convince them otherwise, leaving the College in a difficult financial situation. Kilquist stated that he was upset by one of the Trustees publicly blaming the board and administration after all of our work to coax officials into passing a budget and avoiding layoffs at the College.
“That night I tried to defend those that had worked so hard, and had given so much to the College,” said Kilquist. If I overreacted to the point that my words offended Miss Hüsch or anyone else, I apologize.”
In regards to the tape of the closed session, Kilquist stated that the tapes in question were destroyed on February 27, 2018 along with tapes from May 24, 2016, June 28, 2016, and July 26, 2016, per normal operating procedures. The Attorney General failed to render an opinion for over three years in this matter. Illinois allows destruction after 18 months.
“I will continue to differ with the AG’s opinion that the Board was in violation of the Open Meetings Act because our discussion was about the pending personnel decisions, although perhaps not with the specificity they say was required,” said Kilquist.
Kilquist added that there were absolutely no nefarious intentions to violate the act.
“We listened for hours to over 58 people that testified before us on the effects of being laid off. Their stories were truly heartbreaking and shook us to the core,” said Kilquist. “The subsequent decision of the Board to go forward with the layoffs in open session was in my opinion the correct decision. We kept our doors open, educated our students and today we have hired back the vast majority of faculty and staff and find ourselves fiscally solvent and moving forward.”
“Having said all of this, I am aware of the rumors and innuendo, coffee shop talk, the editorials and social media comments that we are trying to cover something up. There are some that will continue to see ghosts under their bed; but there are no ghosts under the bed. That being said and in the interest of complete transparency, I will accept and endorse a motion to release the tapes from the March 2 closed session.”
After brief discussion by the Board, a roll call vote was taken and the Board unanimously approved the release. Copies of the recording are available in the President’s office. Individuals that desire a copy will need to complete a FOIA form in the President’s office.