Even when public bodies meet behind closed doors, they are required by law to keep minutes. Once the reason for meeting in private no longer exists, the minutes are to be made public.
According to Stacie Galang, a reporter for The Salem News, the Peabody School Committee had "picked up the habit of conducting closed-door meetings without ever releasing those minutes publicly." (I fear this habit is contagious.) So last April, she called and asked for all the executive-session minutes for the last year. She was told they would be released soon.
Writing at the New England First Amendment Center blog, she relates what happened next. She waited. And she waited. After nearly three months of waiting, the newspaper got its lawyer, Rob Bertsche, to file a complaint with the AG.
Another week would pass before the School Committee would give Galang its minutes. When it finally did, they covered only 10 of the 31 meetings for the time period.