City claims Dayton schools task force not subject to open meetings law

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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DPS continues to keep meetings on possible closing of schools private

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The city of Dayton’s attorney argued Wednesday that Ohio open meetings law does not apply to the Dayton Public Schools Facilities Task Force organized by the school district and the city.

The group had scheduled its first meeting for Tuesday, but canceled it after the members arrived, after a dispute with local media over whether the meeting was open to the public.

FIRST STORY: Task force cancels meeting after media questions

“Where there is a misunderstanding, from my analysis, is the assumption that this is a subcommittee or an arm of the public body. And it’s not. And when it’s not, the open meetings act does not apply,” said Barbara Doseck, city attorney. “They don’t have any decision-making capability, they’re not reporting to a public body … it weighs in favor that it’s not a public body, it doesn’t meet that definition.”

The Dayton Daily News filed a formal objection with city government, DPS and the task force co-chairs Tuesday night, and had not received a response Wednesday afternoon.

HISTORY: How did Dayton schools get to this point on facilities?

This newspaper cited three separate cases where Ohio courts declared similar advisory groups to be public bodies subject to open meetings law, even though they were only making recommendations to another decision-making body.

The newspaper also cited an Ohio Attorney General statement that committees created by public bodies must discuss their business in open meetings if the originating public bodies would have to discuss those issues in public.

RELATED: DPS focuses on academics, long-term vision

“To conclude otherwise would allow a public body to circumvent the requirements of (Ohio law) merely by assigning to an advisory body those portions of its deliberations of the public business which it seeks to shield from public scrutiny,” the Attorney General statement says.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the first task force meeting had not been rescheduled.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Top Ohio, Dayton education stories of 2017

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