High court sides with school group in financial transparency case
The Illinois High School Association, a nonprofit organization that runs high school sports competitions, is not subject to the same transparency requirements as public institutions, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled May 18.
The unanimous decision came after an effort by the Better Government Association (BGA) to access the organization’s financial records, which the BGA argued it had a right to because the IHSA carries out public functions on behalf of the state’s schools. The court rejected the argument, ruling that the IHSA is not performing government functions and schools are not required to join the IHSA.
“The IHSA has the power to impact the lives of student athletes in many ways, and we believe they should be subject to transparency,” Andy Shaw, president and CEO of the BGA, said of the decision. “This may be an area that the General Assembly should address in the state’s Freedom of Information Act to ensure that loopholes like this are closed.”
Justice Mary Jane Theis, writing the court’s opinion, noted that increased privatization of government functions stands to decrease transparency and accountability in public bodies.
“To that end, we agree … that governmental entities must not be permitted to avoid their disclosure obligations by contractually delegating their responsibility to a private entity,” she wrote.
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