Judge rules Granville school district did not violate Open Meetings Act when making appointment

Branstool says picking new board member by consensus in closed session allowed

The Granville school board did not violate the Ohio Open Meetings Act when it made a consensus decision in executive session to pick Fred Wolf as the replacement school board member for Andrew Kohn, who resigned, ruled Licking County Common Pleas Court Judge David Branstool.

GranvilleWalks.org Editor Dennis Cauchon had sued the school board, saying that the Ohio Open Meetings Act requires that decision-making — including consensus decisions for which the formal vote is taken later — had to be done in public session.

Judge Branstool

Branstool disagreed. He said that because executive sessions can be legally held to privately discuss and deliberate on personnel matters, such as appointing a new board member, the school board could also make its decision in closed session and take formal action later in public.

“There is no requirement that the board not reach a consensus or decision in executive session so long as the matter considered is one for which the statute allows an executive session and formal action is subsequently taken at a public meeting,” wrote Branstool in his four-page decision made May 10 (and received by mail May 15).

“I obviously don’t agree that decisions can be made in executive session, but I’m not the judge,” Cauchon said. “I appreciate the judge making his decision promptly and congratulate the school district for winning the case.”

GranvilleWalks.org asked the school district for comment and will post it as soon as it arrives.

All the legal documents on the case can be found here, including the judge’s decision.

 

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