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LAWSUIT: East CLE residents say Academic Distress Commission locks public out by meeting illegally

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Posted at 1:42 PM, Feb 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-22 22:45:11-05

EAST CLEVELAND — East Cleveland residents have filed a lawsuit against the city's Academic Distress Commission for the lack of transparency involving meetings that the public wasn't privy to.

The lawsuit states that the East Cleveland Academic Distress Commission is a public body that by law, must make meetings open and available to the public.

The ADC was created specifically to provide oversight of the district by the state of Ohio. It is also tasked with appointing a chief executive officer who "will assume broad and plenary power of the East Cleveland Schools in significant contravention to the tradition of local school board control."

According to the lawsuit, the East Cleveland ADC has "illegally heard presentations, asked questions and deliberated in executive session." The lack of transparency has resulted in "little or no public observation or oversight."

The lawsuit states that the ADC must give residents advance notice of when and where public meetings will take place.

Not giving timely notice of when and where the meetings occur violates the Open Meetings Act, which according to the lawsuit, "nullifies any official action taken as a result of a meeting at which a violation occurs."

The lawsuit states that between since Dec. 15, nine "meetings" have occurred that violate the Open Meetings Act.

ADC meetings are divided into two categories; regular or executive meetings. Regular meetings are supposed to take place on the same location, day and time at regular intervals.

For executive sessions, the lawsuit says the ADC is required to notify residents of what will take place in those sessions, which they failed to do so on at least two occasions. In a meeting on Feb. 1, the lawsuit points out that the ADC appointed a CEO illegally, "after improperly informing the public the purpose of the meeting."

The combined actions by the ADC violate the Open Meetings Act, which deprives the public "of its right to observe its government in action and to understand the basis for important decisions made by public bodies, such as the appointment of a CEO in what is effectively the state takeover of a local school district and the supplanting of the local government authorities of the local school board."

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