An appellate court agreed with a local judge who dismissed a lawsuit against Dayton’s school board and city commission in a possible Open Meetings Act violation by the groups’ school closing task force.
The Second District Court of Appeals announced its decision Friday and said that local activist David Esrati “failed to provide evidence that a school facilities task force engaged in deliberations as opposed to information gathering when it participated in a private tour of a school.”
Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Skelton dismissed Esrati’s lawsuit that claimed a Feb. 6, 2018, task force tour of schools considered for closure was an illegal public meeting. Acting without an attorney, Esrati had sued the parties after first failing in court to get a temporary restraining order.
Outside of the task force members, only a few media representatives were allowed on the tour. Esrati was not among those.
In affirming the common pleas court decision, Judge Jeffrey Welbaum wrote that “the alleged lack of an open meeting did not invalidate a resolution, rule, or formal action of the school board.”
Two other judges concurred with Welbaum’s opinion.
Skelton had ruled that the task force was legally a committee of the Dayton Public Schools board of education, and subject to Open Meetings laws, but granted the city and school board’s motion seeking summary judgment and dismissing Esrati’s case.
“There is no evidence that any deliberations occurred during the bus tour or any discussion of the prospective closing of school buildings,” Skelton ruled.
Esrati responded on his website saying, “You can’t prove what did or did not happen in a meeting if you can’t enter the room.”
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