ECOT wants $60M ruling tossed, claims state board met illegally

From The Columbus Dispatch

In its latest attempt to avoid repaying $60 million to the state, ECOT today accused the state Board of Education of illegally meeting in secret to deliberate the matter prior to voting Monday to issue the order.

The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow filed a lawsuit in Franklin County Common Pleas Court accusing the board of violating Ohio’s Open Meeting Act. ECOT asked the court to toss the order, impose a $500 fine against the board and pay its attorney fees.

“Simply put, it is clear that a quorum of the Board of Education unlawfully deliberated and substantively discussed the ECOT resolution in closed session(s) and/or in serial communications designed to avoid the need for public discussion — a requirement under the Open Meetings Act,” ECOT attorney Marion H. Little wrote in the 16-page complaint.

Specifically, the complaint alleged Department of Education legal counsel Diane Lease “advised and directed” the board prior to the meeting, and board President Tess Elshoff “and perhaps others, impermissibly polled” board members.

While “isolated one-on-one conversations between individual members” are legal, a “round robin” series of repeated communications with individual boards would be illegal under Ohio’s Sunshine Law, according to Attorney General Mike DeWine’s open government guide.

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