Dayton Public Schools sued for alleged public meetings violations

Credit: Jeremy P. Kelley

Credit: Jeremy P. Kelley

Superintendent says DPS strives for transparency and will review the allegations in the lawsuit

Dayton Public Schools has been sued in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court for alleged violations of Ohio’s Open Meetings Act by a northeastern Ohio man who has sued several government bodies in that area for alleged violations.

The Open Meetings Act requires public bodies in Ohio, including city councils, boards of education and more, to conduct themselves in open meetings and notify the public when they are holding a meeting and for what purpose.

The lawsuit alleges Dayton Public Schools has not always given proper notice of special meetings and alleges that meeting minutes are incomplete.

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For example, the lawsuit says on Dec. 20, 2022, the board had a long debate about payment for hooded sweatshirts for students. But the lawsuit alleges that meeting minutes from that date do not note anything about the discussion, just the vote.

“The Dayton Public School District strives to be transparent in all operations and takes the requirements set forth in the Open Meetings Act very seriously,” said Elizabeth Lolli, Dayton Public Schools superintendent. “The district and its legal counsel will thoroughly review the allegations presented in this lawsuit and respond accordingly.”

She also reminded people the public always has unlimited access to Board of Education meeting agendas, minutes, and complete video recordings through the district’s website and YouTube Channel.

The northeastern Ohio man behind Open Government Advocates, Brian Ames, is from Mogadore, a small village outside of Akron. He has sued several government organizations in northeastern Ohio, according to records in Portage and Trumbull Counties, but is not a licensed attorney.

In a 2016 case that Ames filed, Portage County Commissioners were found to be in violation of the open meetings act and fined $500. But a 2017 case against Brimfield Twp. trustees was dismissed, as was a 2015 case against Portage County Commissioners.

This is not DPS’ first open meetings law case. Dayton Public Schools was required to pay tens of thousands of dollars to former treasurer Craig Jones, after courts ruled the school board’s February 2016 vote to non-renew Jones’ contract came during a meeting that violated Ohio’s open meetings law and the district’s own polices.

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