From The Plain Dealer East Cleveland's school board settled a dispute with member Patricia Blochowiak by agreeing to a list of changes to better comply with open government laws and reimbursing Blochowiak $100,000 for legal fees.
Blochowiak sued the board in 2014, accusing it of holding illegal closed-door meetings and keeping improper minutes, among other complaints, according to a press release from the Chandra Law Firm.
The allegations relate to Ohio's Open Meetings Act, which requires that a public body, such as a school board, discuss business in open meetings except in limited circumstances, where an "executive session" can be held.
The complaint Blochowiak filed includes claims the board improperly handled the evaluation of the superintendent and treasurer and held numerous executive sessions without stating a proper purpose. The complaint also claims a singular board member made spending decisions for a 2013 board retreat, instead of it being discussed and approved in open meeting.
Read the full amended complaint in the document viewer at the end of this post.
The settlement includes correcting past minutes, rescinding certain policies regarding superintendent and treasurer evaluations, attending regular open-government training, along with other requirements for the board.
The settlement comes two weeks before the case would have come to trial, according to the press release.
"This agreement holds the board accountable for betraying the promise of open government, and is a victory for democracy," Subodh Chandra, lead counsel for Blochowiak, said in the release. "Schoolchildren and their families deserve to know and understand their public officials' decisions--good and bad--and how they made those decisions."