CLEVELAND - The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio sent a letter to state legislators today, asking them to withhold support of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s school plan, and the corresponding legislation that would make it law, until its authors remove all exceptions to state public records and open meetings laws.
“Under the Mayor’s current proposal, the committee responsible for overseeing and enforcing much of the school plan is exempt from both public record and open meeting laws,” said ACLU of Ohio Executive Director Christine Link. “This is unacceptable. We cannot allow our public school system to operate in secret, especially after the long history of corruption and abuse that has plagued our city and county governments.”
The ACLU has taken no formal position on the merits of the mayor’s plan, but has drawn attention to its troubling lack of transparency. In the pages of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Mayor Jackson himself said that the ACLU’s concerns about transparency are legitimate, agreeing that there “shouldn’t be anything to hide.” Still, the exceptions to public records and open meetings laws persist.
“We ask only that legislators who are considering giving their support to the mayor’s plan withhold that support until the authors insert meaningful requirements for transparency and public accountability,” said Link. “Until these protections are in place, this entire plan is undermined by secrecy.”