After vague first notice, Dayton’s school board confirms meeting is about layoffs

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Aug. 18 Dayton school board meeting

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The meeting notice problem comes as DPS is still in court over a similar Sunshine Law issue

Dayton’s school board confirmed Wednesday morning that, as expected, the main purpose of Friday’s 3:30 p.m. virtual board meeting is to consider furloughs or layoffs.

After the Dayton Daily News reported that Tuesday’s initial meeting notice was vague, DPS issued a revised notice saying, “the purpose of this special meeting is for consideration of personnel matters affecting the district, including potential furloughs and reduction of classified, certified, other non-teaching, and administrative staff. "

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Ohio open meetings law says government bodies must be specific about the purpose of a special meeting when they announce such a meeting to the public.

Four years ago, the board voted not to renew the contracts of Superintendent Lori Ward and Treasurer Craig Jones in a special meeting. Jones sued, saying the meeting notice did not meet legal requirements, therefore his nonrenewal was invalid, and the district owed him for the continuation of his contract.

Four years later, after multiple rulings and appeals, judges have ruled in favor of Jones, but the case is still in appeals court, with DPS’ attorneys trying to limit the damages to $42,345, and Jones’ attorneys seeking much more.

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The school board’s initial notice for Friday’s meeting said only that the board would go into executive session and would “consider voting on recommendations from superintendent and/or treasurer,” without saying what those recommendations might be about.

That notice was sent out by DPS public relations staff, with Board President Mohamed Al-Hamdani’s name on it. At last week’s school board meeting, after a resident asked about layoff rumors, Al-Hamdani laughed it off and asked people to “stop listening to the rumor mill. That’s all I can say.”

A December court ruling in Jones’ case said, “the Board and its members are enjoined from issuing special meeting notices that fail to inform the public of the purpose(s) of the open sessions at the Board’s special meetings.”

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DPS was also challenged on open meetings law in 2018, when it tried to bar the Dayton Daily News and others from meetings of its school closing task force. Judge Richard Skelton later ruled, in a lawsuit filed by David Esrati, that the task force was in fact a “public body,” meaning it was subject to Ohio open meetings law.

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