The Act's coverage should be construed broadly and its exceptions narrowly in order to effectuate its purpose of protecting the public from meetings held behind closed doors. See, e.g., Kilgore v. R.W. Page Corp., 261 Ga. 410, 405 S.E.2d 655 (1991).
The statute provides for specific exemptions. The exceptions are not to be used as a subterfuge to retreat from open to executive session. Puglisi v. Sch. Comm. of Whitman, 11 Mass. App. Ct. 142, 414 N.E.2d 613) (1981) (school committee holding public hearing on discipline of school principal went into "sham" executive session to discuss character and reputation of superintendent of school system; executive session let superintendent get in private "last word" on principal; principal awarded back pay). See Dist. Att’y for Nw. Dist. v. Bd. of Selectmen of Sunderland, 11 Mass. App. Ct. 663, 418 N.E.2d 642, 644 (1981). At least in some circumstances, a subsequent open meeting on the same subject may in effect cure an improperly closed meeting. Pearson v. Bd. of Selectmen of Longmeadow, 49 Mass. App. Ct. 119, 726 N.E.2d 980 (2000); Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks, Lodge No. 65 v. Planning Bd. of Lawrence, 403 Mass. 531, 557-8, 531 N.E.2d 1233, 1249-50 (1988).
The OML exempts entirely from its coverage certain proceedings and deliberations. It also delineates specified instances in which executive sessions are allowed during the course of meetings that are otherwise required to be open to the public. Exemptions and executive sessions are discussed separately below.