Adam White’s case against his fellow Olentangy Board of Education members will be heard by the Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday.
White is arguing that four other school board members had a public meeting via email correspondence that excluded him, violating the Ohio Open Meetings Act.
The incident began in September 2012 when the board affirmed its policy that members go through the superintendent or treasurer before contacting school employees, which White violated while conducting an investigation. White questioned the policy, as did The Columbus Dispatch in an editorial.
David King, who was school board president at the time, contacted the other board members, except White, by email to consider a letter to the editor. The board and district administration crafted a letter without consulting White.
In April 2013, White filed a civil case against the district and other board members. White’s attorneys said the email dialogue between a majority of the board members constitutes a board meeting that is required to be held in public. King’s attorneys said the letter was merely an opinion and didn’t constitute public business, and that email isn’t mentioned in the Open Meetings Act.
White has lost twice: In January 2014 in Delaware County Common Pleas Court; and Sept. 14, 2014, in the Fifth District Court of Appeals. Each court said the letter wasn’t a resolution for the board to act upon, so it wasn’t public business.
However, White has successfully appealed to Ohio Supreme Court. His position is supported by Common Cause Ohio, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, and the Ohio Coalition for Open Government.
White was elected to the board in November 2011. He has clashed with the board and former Superintendent Wade Lucas over policies and resolutions, and is frequently a lone “no” vote at meetings. He did not run for re-election, and his term expires at the end of the year.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak. Information from Court News Ohio was used in this story.