Judge rejects ousted Dayton school treasurer’s lawsuit

A judge has rejected former Dayton Public Schools Treasurer Craig Jones’ 10-month old lawsuit, in which he claimed he was improperly removed from that position in 2016.

Jones’ lawsuit said the Feb. 23, 2016, meeting at which the school board voted to non-renew his contract was not a legally valid meeting. He argued the notice announcing the meeting, the description of matters to be discussed and the use of an executive session did not satisfy state law and DPS policy.

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Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Steven Dankof granted the school board’s motion for summary judgment in the case in its entirety, and overruled Jones’ motion.

The school board non-renewed the contracts of both Jones and former Superintendent Lori Ward at that February 2016 meeting, eventually replacing them with Hiwot Abraha as treasurer and Rhonda Corr as superintendent.

Had Dankof ruled in Jones’ favor, he likely have been “deemed re-employed for a term of one year at the same salary” under Ohio law. Jones’ base salary in his final year was $132,000.

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Among Dankof’s findings:

** “Jones’s assertion that the special meeting should be nullified for lack of strict adherence to the notice requirements of (Ohio law) is sophistry,” Dankof wrote. “Why? Because it is undisputed that Jones had actual notice of the special meeting well in advance of Feb. 23. Citing a lack of signature on the notice and the fact that Cherisse Kidd sent the notice by email – at the behest of President Baguirov, which was the custom – is an attempt to hijack the words of the statute to undermine the spirit of the law.”

** “If a generic purpose of ‘personnel matters’ is sufficient notice under the Open Meetings Act (according to a previous court ruling), then the notice for the February 23, 2016 surely passes muster,” Dankof wrote.

** “The Board properly entered executive session at the special meeting. ‘Employment’ was a valid reason for entering the session as defined in the statute and the Board was not required to list Jones’s contract by name,” Dankof wrote. “Jones’s contentions that the Board cited the wrong subsection (of Ohio law) and that he was actually an official, not an employee, as reasons to invalidate the executive session is without merit.”

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