The Virginia FOIA Opinion Archive


FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-05-07

The student government of a public institution of higher education is a public body subject to FOIA. The branches of student government are analogous to the organization of government generally (i.e., legislative, executive, and judicial). (Several other related issues discussed.)

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-01-07

The closed meeting exemption for consultation with counsel regarding specific legal matters may not be used for the purpose of discussing a general policy in the absence of any specific legal transaction or dispute.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-09-06

An entity (in this case, a redistricting committee assisting a school board) that states that its meetings are open to the public should provide public notice of those meetings, whether or not the entity is subject to FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-10-06

A nonprofit foundation created by private citizens that voluntarily works with localities for the public good, but does not receive public funding, is not a public body subject to FOIA.

White Dog Publishing v. Culpeper Board of Supervisors

In considering certain newspaper publishers' application for a writ of mandamus, the circuit court erred in finding that a county board of supervisors did not violate the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by going into a closed session at a particular meeting and erred in failing to award reasonable costs and attorney's fees under the Act. Because the purpose of the closed session was not the formation or modifications of a procurement contract, it did not fall within the statutory public contract exemption of § 2.2-3711(A)(30), and special circumstances did not make an award of fees and costs unjust.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-04-06

There is no special exemption in FOIA for a joint committee of conference of the General Assembly to hold a closed meeting on a budget bill.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-03-06

It is beyond the scope of the FOI Advisory Council's authority to interpret the rules of either house of the General Assembly. There is no joint conference of the General Assembly after adjournment sine die.

FOI Advisory Council Opinon AO-02-06

Gathering of quorum from both a town council and a planning commission, on a topic that had once been before the council and was likely to be before it again, should have been advertised to the public as a joint meeting of both entities.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-01-06

FOIA requires that meeting minutes contain a summary of the discussion on matters proposed, deliberated or decided, and a record of any votes taken. Public bodies should always include in meeting minutes a summary of any matter that appears on the agenda for that meeting and of any matters that are the subject of a motion or vote.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-11-05

Question on whether meeting of liaison committee of school board and board of supervisors was subject to FOIA depends on status of members as a subcommittee or quorum of their respective public bodies.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-10-05

Study commission appointed to advise public body is also a public body. Public body may impose restrictions on placement and use of recording devices, but may not prohibit recording.

William H. Turner v. Virginia Board of Dentistry, Department of Health Professions, et al.

Board of Dentistry meeting minutes were inadequate, did not include even a summary of the discussion on a particular subject and decision. Attorney fees awarded for FOIA violation. No wilful violation found.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-01-05

School board's motion to go into closed session complied with FOIA's three-part test for such motions. County's vague reference to affirm a recommendation on a personnel matter identified by number rather than by name or position did not comport with FOIA's requirement that votes taken after reconvening after a closed meeting must describe the substance of the action.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-25-04

FOIA requests and responses should be clearly communicated and shold avoid editorial comments so that the process does not become adversarial. Minutes of state agencies created prior to July 1, 2004, may be inadequate representations of what transpired in a meeting; a public body is not required to recreate the actions of a pre-July 1, 2004, meeting in revised minutes.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-24-04

A motion to go into closed meetings to discuss 'issues relating to a specifically named individual' is too vague to identify either the subject matter under discussion or the purpose of the discussion. Though a meeting might have been closed without the proper procedure, votes taken after the meeting, provided they were recorded in public, are valid.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-21-04

FOI Advisory Council lacks statutory authority to determine whether the Americans with Disabilities Act would allow sensory or physically disabled members of local public bodies to meet via electronic means when FOIA squarely prohibits it.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-20-04

Because they are performing a delegated duty of the county service authority as a whole, meetings of the county service authority's customer dispute process are open.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-15-04

A citizen-organized gathering with three members of a school board for the purpose of discussing business currently pending before the board must comply with FOIA's notice provisions.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-12-04

A meeting between chair and vice chair of both board of supervisors and school board is not subject to FOIA if those members were not specifcally designated as a committee of their respective boards.

Media General Operations v. City Council of the City of Richmond

City council meeting to discuss performance of city manager improperly strayed into discussion of city's soaring crime rate. No authority for closing a proceeding to present closing arguments in a case challenging the propriety of a closed meeting.

Beck v. Shelton

FOIA does not apply to members-elect. Exchange of multiple e-mails over a several-hour period not an illegal electronic meeting. Neighborhood meeting no FOIA violation.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-02-04

Public body must follow FOIA's notice provision, even if planning to go into a closed meeting immediately; closed meeting can only take place within the context of an open meeting. Draft proposal between a city and a county over acquisition of water may be withheld under the exemption for contract negotations, if disclosure would jeopardize bargaining position; discussions of the proposal may also be held in closed session. Advisory Council uses subcommittee to identify a problem in FOIA and propose legislation to address it.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-23-03

A meeting notice that omits the exact time of the meeting (or, in certain instances, whether there will be a public comment period) is deficient. A public body does not have an obligation to honor a standing request for agenda items that will be created in the future.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-22-03

FOIA does not prohibit public bodies from regulating public comment period during open meetings. A public comment period rule prohibiting speakers from asking questions of the public body and its staff does not violate FOIA's allowance for records requests to be made verbally. FOIAC cannot render opinions regarding possible federal constitutional violations.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-17-03

If a public body has authority to censure or reprimand one of its members, it may meet in closed session to discuss it; without such authority, however, the body cannot close a meeting to discuss someone over whom the body has no control.