By: Amanda Sundquist
In a matter of first impression, the Commonwealth Court has concluded that the Sunshine Act may be violated when property owners are permitted to participate in an executive session for litigation purposes related to a tax assessment appeal. In Trib Total Media v. Highland School District, at the conclusion of a regular public meeting, the school board announced it would meet in a closed executive session to discuss litigation and invited the property owners involved in the litigation to participate in the executive session. The local newspaper was denied access to the meeting, and filed a complaint alleging the school district had violated the Sunshine Act.
After a review of Section 708(a)(4), which permits an executive session regarding litigation matters, the Commonwealth Court found the plain language of the section indicated only attorneys and advisors are permitted to participate in executive sessions held for this purpose. If you have questions regarding your municipal procedures for executive sessions and compliance with the Sunshine Act, please contact Amanda Sundquist.