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WIU board admits to breaking the law, organization requests investigation

An audio recording of a closed board of trustees meeting exposes violations of the Open Meeting Act.

MACOMB, Illinois -- An organization is requesting a criminal investigations of several Western Illinois University officials after the board of trustees admitted to breaking the law.

The University Professionals of Illinois is asking the McDonough County States Attorney's Office to pursue a criminal investigation into the board of trustees, the university president and other university officials. This comes after an audio recording of a closed meeting exposes violations of the Open Meeting Act.

The board of trustees met privately on June 28, 2018, and discussed a range of topics from finances to scripting open meetings. The Illinois State's Attorney later made the board release an audio recording of the meeting.

"Everything in that audio recording is a violation, there's no doubt," John Miller, president of the University Professionals of Illinois, said.

Western Illinois University released the audio recording on Nov. 5. Listen to it, here.

On the same day, the university released a statement admitting the board "did not comply" with the law and announced the resignation of a board member.

"It is with regret that I accept the resignation of trustee and former chair Cathy Early," wrote Carolyn Ehlert Fuller, the WIU Board of Trustees Chair.

Miller told News 8 that he sent a letter to the McDonough County States Attorney requesting a criminal investigation on Nov. 15. He then planned to hand deliver a letter the next day.

Matt Kwacala, McDonough County State's Attorney, declined to comment.

Miller is accusing the university officials of discussing public business in closed meetings, planning illegal closed meetings, scripting public meetings, circumventing the law with "2 plus 2" meetings and failure to release closed session meeting minutes.

Miller said he believes that this may have happened several times, saying there were 21 closed meetings in three years.

There's no word on if the attorney's office will pursue an investigation.

In the statement from WIU, Fuller added that the board would work with  University General Counsel Liz Duvall and take part in training to ensure future compliance with the act.

University Professionals of Illinois is a collective bargaining organization for employees of several universities throughout Illinois, including Western Illinois University.

This story is ongoing and will be updated as more information is available.