Judge Denies Motion to Dismiss Open Meetings Lawsuit Against Florida School Board

January 2016
School Law Newsletter

A Florida judge denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against The Collier County School Board (“Board”) brought under Florida’s open meeting laws. The suit was brought by Sports C.L.U.B., a non-profit that provides after-school care. Sports C.L.U.B. brought suit after the Board voted in favor of a controversial measure that allowed schools to provide their own after-school care.

As a result of the controversial vote, Sports C.L.U.B. no longer provides after-care services at several schools. Sports C.L.U.B. and many parents were displeased with the Board and a flurry of administrative hearings followed.

Under Florida law, board members are not denied the ability to communicate with one another. However, they cannot discuss actions coming before the Board. The suit claims that contrary to Florida’s open meeting law, Board members and district administrators orchestrated a plan to pass the vote knowing it was unpopular. Allegedly, Board members, district administrators, and the superintendent had improper communications, including written correspondences, regarding the vote.

Although the suit does not provide many details, the judge decided that Sports C.L.U.B. pled a sufficient cause of action which means the case will continue.

What You Need To Know

Board members are often acquaintances outside of the boardroom. Board members must remember that open meeting laws exist and be familiar with the rules in their jurisdiction. This way it is less likely that an innocent conversation between Board members crosses the line into an open meeting law violation. Frost Brown Todd can help schools resolve open records issues, and can train school staff and new board members on Ohio’s public records law.

Practices

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