Open Meeting Law

***READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED***

Posts about real school tragedy, crime and/or events can be upsetting.

Recently, Los Angeles school teachers went on strike for better wages and working conditions. This made me think about the Louisiana teacher who at a board meeting in 2018, asked why the superintendent should have a salary increase when teachers hadn’t seen a raise in nearly ten years.

She was interrupted and ejected from the meeting, then arrested for Willful Disobedience. Do you remember this story? If not, here’s the post from April 2018: Willful Disturbance

I wondered if anything new had transpired since I wrote the original post. In researching, I found a lot had happened and decided it was worthy of an update.

BLOG POST #174: This week, I’m sharing an update on research from a specific crime involving the right to speak at a school board meeting.

Let’s pick up where this saga left off in April. It was unknown if the teacher would file a lawsuit against the school board.

Her voice and the voices of her fellow teachers, who have not received a pay increase in many years despite growing class sizes, should have absolutely been heard,” the Attorney General stated.

The teacher didn’t file a lawsuit against the school board, the Louisiana Attorney General did for violating the state’s Open Meeting Law by not allowing the teacher to speak at the board meeting AND he won.

The court ruling nullified all action taken at the board meeting when the teacher was ejected including the Superintendent’s salary increase.

The court ruling said, the teacher “addressed the board respectfully.” And there was no evidence that her behavior was “willfully disruptive.”

Shortly after the school board president denied the teacher’s right to speak at the board meeting, he abruptly resigned after serving on the school board for 24-years.

Since then, the school board has launched an investigation into complaints about the superintendent who has been on a paid leave of absence since summer 2018. I looked long and hard but was unable to ascertain whether he’s being paid at the increased amount or the amount previous to the board approving his increase.

The school board has hired a special counsel to assist them in the superintendent investigation. Based on the board meeting minutes there’s a lot of contention among board members regarding the superintendent, yet he remains the superintendent at this time. At first the majority banned the superintendent from stepping foot on district property until the investigation is concluded and then amended the action to limiting his presence to what is necessary because his child attends school in the district.

Will the superintendent remain? Doubtful. Will the school board be required to pay punitive damages to the teacher? Possibly. If there’s more information, I’ll be sure to share another follow-up on this topic.

What are your thoughts about this case? Join the conversation on the website. We talk about the sensitive subject of crimes occurring at or connected to schools. Your relevant comments are always welcome on the Research Blog.

Do you know of a school crime you’d like to share? Email me so we can discuss the details. If you’d like assistance finding information about the Open Meeting Law for your state, reply and send me an email me.

Thanks for reading!

-Robin

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