NORTH LEWISBURG – Triad Local Schools board approved a settlement agreement with Cox Media at a special meeting Saturday.
The court case revolved around a claim of a First Amendment free speech and Ohio Open Meetings Act violation stemming from the Oct. 24, 2016, school board meeting. At that meeting, WHIO-TV reporter Natalie Jovonovich and videographer Chuck Hamlin sought to videotape the meeting, but were denied that option by Superintendent Chris Piper, according to the case file.
Piper told the Cox Media representatives that board policy requires prior notice before allowing videotaping, to ensure the taping does not interfere with the normal course of the board meeting.
School board policy 0169.1, listed on the district’s website, indicates videotaping is permitted, if the superintendent is contacted prior to the board meeting, to review possible placement of equipment. The persons taping the meeting must agree to conditions: Do not create obstructions between the board and audience; do not conduct interviews in the meeting room while the board is in session; and do not create commentary, adjustment of equipment or positioning of operators that would distract either the board or members of the audience while the board is in session, so as not to disrupt the meeting.
Piper said Cox did not contact his office before the meeting, which is why Jovonovich and Hamlin were not allowed to videotape. They were allowed to attend, and did conduct video interviews in the hallway outside after the meeting ended.
The court case requested the judge grant an injunction compelling Triad officials to comply with Ohio’s Open Meetings Act, award a civil forfeiture of $500, court costs and reasonable attorney fees to Cox.
The board approved the settlement agreement with Cox 4-0 (board member April Freville abstaining) which dismissed the case.
All costs would be covered by the district’s insurer, Piper said. The settlement agreement notes $15,000 will be given to Cox’s legal counsel to cover all their claims. Piper said that is covered by the district’s insurer.
“Triad Local Schools is committed to continuing to balance our open, transparent relationship with the community, including media outlets, and protecting our students’ right to privacy. Under this agreement, the board is able to uphold those commitments and settle this matter through our insurance company without further demands on the district’s resources,” Piper said.
In other action, the board:
•Accepted resignations of six-hour cafeteria worker Heidi Davis and two-hour cafeteria worker Norma Molnar, both effective May 25, 2017.
•Accepted the resignation of Middle School Intervention Specialist Ellie Johnson, effective May 26, 2017.
•Approved the voluntary transfer of sixth grade Language Arts teacher Joyce Holland to fourth grade Language Arts teacher, for the 2017-18 school year.
•Approved the voluntary transfer of two-hour elementary school cafeteria worker Naomi Nance to the two-hour cafeteria worker at the middle school, for the 2017-18 school year.
•Approved the voluntary transfer of two-hour high school cafeteria worker Traci Perry to the six hour elementary cafeteria worker position, for the 2017-18 school year.
•Approved the three-year contract of Athletic Director and High School Dean of Students Gary Davis, at a salary of $51,000, beginning the 2017-18 school year.
•Approved hiring four-hour aide Leslie Runion and Bus Aide Vicky Culp, both for the 2017-18 school year.
•Approved hiring two-hour elementary cafeteria worker Nonnie (Renee) Stout and two-hour high school cafeteria worker Susan (Niki) Gaier, both for the 2017-18 school year.
•Approved hiring Auxiliary (Majorettes) Instructor Dawndee Zizzo at Step 5; Assistant Instrumental Music Director Ben Moore at Step 5; and Middle School Football Coach Jeff Merklin at Step 1; all for the 2017-18 school year.
•Approved the wireless communication allowance for $50 per month for the EMIS coordinator for the 2017-18 school year.
•Approved supplemental contracts for the 2017-18 school year.
•Approved substitutes for the 2017-18 school year.
•Approved the overnight trip for Band students to band camp at Camp Clifton, Yellow Springs, Ohio, from July 9-July 13, 2017. Participants are responsible for the cost of camp, but Triad transportation is requested.
•Approved the overnight trip for cheerleaders to attend cheer camp at Ohio Northern University, Ada, Ohio, from July 24-July 27, 2017. Participants are responsible for the cost of the camp, however, Triad transportation is requested.
•Approved Type A lunch prices for the 2017-18 school year.
•Accepted the bids provided by the EPC consortium from Smith Foods for dairy products and Aunt Millie’s for bread products for the cafeteria during the 2017-18 school year.
•Approved membership in the Ohio High School Athletic Association for the 2017-18 school year.
•Approved the service agreement with the Madison-Champaign County Educational Service Center for the 2017-18 school year.
•Approved the service agreement for legal services with Scott Scriven LLP, from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018.
•Approved the service agreement for legal services with Bricker and Eckler LLP from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018.
•Approved the service agreement with West Central Ohio Technology Center at an estimated cost of $950, from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018.
•Approved appropriations modifications.
•Approved the fiscal year 2017 final certificate of estimated resources.
•Approved temporary appropriations for fiscal year 2018, based on 80 percent of fiscal year 2017’s expenditures.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.