Attorney General's Opinion 1979-80 #381



January 15, 1980

The Honorable Theordore V. Morrison, Jr.
Member, House of Delegates

79-80 381

You have asked whether or not certain actions of the board of visitors of a State institution of higher education in conducting an executive meeting comply with the requirements of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (the "Act"). You indicate that during a regular public meeting of the board of visitors an executive meeting was held, after which the board voted in public to adopt a resolution identified only as "Resolution W-3". You further state that no additional information regarding the nature of the resolution or the subject matter to which it pertained was provided during the public meeting. Inquiries with officials of the institution for more specific information concerning the nature of the resolution have resulted in responses that the resolution in question concerned a "real estate matter."

Based upon the foregoing facts, I conclude that the board of visitors has not complied with the requirements of the Act. Section 2.1-344(a)(2) permits executive meetings for:

"Discussion or consideration of the condition, acquisition or use of real property for public purpose, or of the disposition of publicly held property, or of plans for the future of a State institution of higher education which could affect the value of property owned or desirable for ownership by such institution."

Section 2.1-344(c) provides that no resolution or other action adopted or agreed to in an executive or closed meeting shall become effective unless such body, following such meeting, reconvenes in public and votes on such resolution or action. Thus, while the Act permits executive meetings for the discussion of matters pertaining to real estate by public bodies it also requires that any decision concerning such matters be made in public session. While the public vote upon the resolution need not reflect every detail of the proposed board action so as to undermine the purpose of the act in authorizing executive discussion, §2.1-344(c) obviously requires that the public vote inform the members of the public present of the general nature of the board's agreed upon action. The public vote to adopt "Resolution W-3" which you describe does not in any way inform the public of the nature of the decision made by the board of visitors. Accordingly such action does not comply with the provisions of 2.1-344(c). The responses to inquiries provided by institution officials do not cure the illegality of the board's actions in this case for two reasons: first, the responses are no more informative than the board's public vote on the resolution. Additionally, the administrative officials of the institution cannot cure illegalities in the actions of the board of visitors.