Someone forgot to tell a school board in the state that if you want to keep a secret, you don't tell anyone else. Some folks think the only person you don't tell is the media, and if you do that, nobody else will talk. How silly is that?
This school board held a closed meeting to terminate the contract of a coach. A large group of students and parents were angry. They reportedly asked for a closed meeting.
First, the privilege to close belongs to the body, not citizens, but I'm going to assume that the body chose to hold the closed meeting. The board goes into closed meeting, then all these members of the public stream into the meeting, at the body's invitation.
Several members of the media follow, assuming that the closure is ended. Much to their surprise, they were told to leave. The body announced the meeting was closed to the media; everyone else in the world was apparently welcome to be in the room and hear what was being said.
How the heck did these public officials think they were going to keep anything that happened in that room secret? Did they really believe there could be any expectation of privacy when large numbers of people are privy to what happened in that room?
Actually, I've lived through this scenario at least once before in my life. The court that looked at these facts announced that a public body can allow anyone into a closed meeting that it wants. So, literally, the court held that public body can bar only the reporter from the closed meeting, allowing anyone else in the room to attend.
Since then, I've thought hard about how a lawyer can craft language to allow a public body validly to engage in information gathering, while avoiding ludicrous situations like this to happen. I'm about convinced that there are not words that would cover this situation, allowing for valid closure but making it clear that there are rational limits.
Perhaps a rational solution downs't exist. Perhaps the real solution is the "real" one. People talk. The more people you let in, the more people will talk. The more controversial the subject, the more people will talk.
Reality can trump the best legal theory in the world. Any legislator will tell you that you cannot legislate against human nature. People are doomed to repeat their mistakes. Life goes on.