The Virginia FOIA Opinion Archive


FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-19-00

Parental request of school board for religious exemption (as a personal matter unrelated to the transaction of public business) is proper subject for a closed meeting if the topic has been identified with specificity in the motion to go into closed session.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-12-00

once city council members acted on a report that was arguably part of the city manager's working papers, any exempt status is lost and the document becomes part of the public record.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-13-00

Notice for special or emergency meetings must be reasonable under the circumstances; determination of reasonableness is not within purview of FOI Advisory Council's duties.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-09-00

Roberts Rules of Order is subordinate to FOIA in the event of any conflict between the two.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-08-00

The condition or use of real estate is no longer a valid topic for a closed meeting; city manager's working paper exemption evaporates once he disseminates document.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-07-00

Physical presence of lawyer is necessary for public body to invoke closed meeting exemption regarding consultation for advice on a specific legal matter; counsel's presence is not necessarily demanded when the exemption for briefings on actual or probable litigation.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-04-00

The informal gathering of three members of the Norfolk Wetlands Board to tour the site of an applicant for a dredging permit is considered a meeting under FOIA because it necessarily concerns the transaction of public business

Attorney General's Opinion 2000 #042

Elected officials are not employees of the board, therefore the closed meeting exemption for private discussions of an individual employee's performance does not apply to them.

Attorney General's Opinion 1999 #061

Becuase a city council does not exercise control over the daily work of the city manager's employees, the city council cannot use the personnel exemption to discuss city employees in a closed meeting.

Attorney General's Opinion 1999 #075

Under law as it existed prior to July 1, 1999, advance notice of a telephone meeting didn't need to list all locations from where telephone participation was to take place. Post-July 1, 1999, law says all locations must be identified.

Attorney General's Opinion 1999 #014

Two members of seven-member board may meet informally by phone, provided the two do not constitute a standing committee nor authorized to act on the board's behalf.

Attorney General's Opinion 1999 #015

A school board may not meet in executive session to discuss the election of its chairman. The personnel exemption does not apply.

Attorney General's Opinion 1998 #009

Though a city council may meet in executive session to discuss personnel appointed by the council, it cannot close a public meeting to discuss the employees of those appointed personnel.

Attorney General's Opinion 1998 #096

A public body may meet in executive session to discuss the acquisition, condition or use of public property.

Town of Madison v. Ford

The Virginia Constitution requires that votes taken on all municipal ordinances must reflect how each member present voted.

Shenandoah Publishing House v. Warren County School Board

An injunction is proper where a school board enters into any contract, which was discussed during a closed executive session conducted pursuant to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act and whose effective date is before the date on which the school board reconvenes in open session and formally approves the contract.

McLaughlin v. Town of Front Royal

An action taken in open session of a meeting is valid.

Shenandoah Publishing House v. Warren County School Board

Decided City Council did not violate FOIA by meeting in closed session; Shenandoah Publishing House Inc. v. The Winchester City Council; Chancery No. 95-156.

Commonwealth v. Payne

A city ordinance passed when all members of a public body vote in open session is valid.

Shenandoah Publishing House v. Warren County School Board

FOIA violations made in good faith do not require the imposition of civil penalties

Attorney General's Opinion 1992 #001

Negotiations regarding the substantive terms of a contract to buy water from a neighboring locality is a 'legal matter' that can be discussed in a closed meeting because public disclosure could compromise negotiating positions/strategy. Not all public business that may end up in contract form is considered a 'legal matter'.

ACLU v. Andrews


American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, et al.


Senator Hunter B. Andrews, et al.

Case No. HB-342-4

September 19, 1991

By Judge Randall G. Johnson

Attorney General's Opinion 1991 #005

Public body satisfies continual request for notice by saying its meetings are held at the same time and same place on the same day each month and that separate notice will be given for special meetings. No additional notice necessary when date, time and place of reconvened meeting is announced at regularly scheduled meeting.

Hale v. Washington County School Board

Relief for a plaintiff under FOIA does not include compelling a government body to turn over minutes, even if there are any, of an executive/closed meeting.

Attorney General's Opinion 1990 #008

The two members of a seven-member board, and the two members of a seven-member council, joining to discuss mutual governmental business are both committees and must comply with FOIA's meeting procedures.