Columbus’ superintendent search method proper, school boards group says

From The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio Auditor Dave Yost said the Columbus Board of Education violated the state’s Open Meetings Act when it made decisions about job candidates in private meetings.

But the Ohio School Boards Association disagrees. In fact, it trains and advises districts across the state that it’s legal to make certain hiring decisions, such as narrowing a field to a smaller list of finalists, in closed “executive sessions” as long as the final vote to hire is made in public.

“The process used by the Columbus City School board is not unique to the district, and is used by many of our members to narrow their lists of candidates,” Sara Clark, chief legal counsel for the association, said in a letter to Yost dated last Friday. “It is my belief that this process is lawful and appropriate” under the Ohio Open Meetings Act.

Clark points to a 1985 decision by the state’s Third District Court of Appeals that the Tiffin City Council didn’t violate the Open Meetings Act when it narrowed a list of potential appointments to fill a vacant council seat during a closed meeting.

“That’s not what the law says,” Yost said Tuesday in response to Clark’s letter, just hours after the Columbus Board of Education voted unanimously to scrap its superintendent search and start over on Yost’s advice that they had violated state law by making decisions about job candidates in closed meetings, and could be personally financially responsible.

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