Cleveland – Today the ACLU of Ohio Foundation sent public records requests to Cleveland Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett & Board Chair Margaret Hopkins. The purpose of the requests is to investigate recent claims that School Board members have been conducting official school board business in private, a potential violation of Ohio’s Sunshine Laws.
According to recent press accounts, Byrd-Bennett has been splitting board members & school administrators up into “work groups” for the purpose of researching various issues & making recommendations to the full Board. Often times, the entire process is done with little or no notice to the public and with no opportunity for the public to attend the meetings.
Apparently, this use of “work groups” has resulted in recommendations to the full board on a variety of subjects from employee contract negotiations to the handling of multi-million dollar district deficits. Many times, these recommendations are made with no opportunity for public input and sometimes are revealed just before the full board is scheduled to vote on the matter.
“It appears that the purpose of these so-called ‘work groups’ is to circumvent Ohio’s Sunshine Laws & secretly conduct official business away from public view. The district is engaged in an open meetings ‘shell game’ purposely designed to minimize public input,” said ACLU of Ohio volunteer attorney Michael Honohan.