Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Open Door Lawsuit Against State Board Of Education Terminated Without Results, Taxpayers Foot The Bill

If there was anything the taxpaying-public gained from the State Board of Education being sued for conducting business via e-mail communications instead of during a publicly-noticed meeting of the board as required by state law, it escaped me. A statement from the plaintiffs tells me as a taxpayer I'm supposed to feel good because, even though the Board members admitted no wrongdoing, they agreed to pick up more than $15,000 in legal expenses incurred by the plaintiffs in exchange for dropping their lawsuit. The plaintiffs also tell us that their lawsuit revealed "a potential ambiguity in the Open Door Law" sort of like how we've become all too familiar with our state's ethics laws. Perhaps the legislature will correct that ambiguity next year, eh? If the plaintiffs believe their lawsuit accomplished anything, a statement released by Gordon Hendry, one of the Republicrats appointed by Gov. Pence to the board to undermine the State Superintendent of Education's authority at every turn gives a much different picture:
The settlement includes the payment of legal fees to plaintiffs’ attorneys with admission that no violation of the Open Door Law occurred and no ability for plaintiffs to ever bring the lawsuit again. 
“It’s unfortunate that a frivolous lawsuit like this one wasted so much time and energy that would have been better spent focusing on the needs of Indiana’s students. 
“The most important thing to take away from this agreement is that no violation of the Open Door law occurred, and this case is permanently laid to rest. 
“As former Public Access Counselor for the City of Indianapolis, I’m well acquainted with these laws and knew from the outset that this lawsuit was just a ploy to distract from the recent progress our state has made in K-12 education. 
“That being said, I’ve long been an advocate for improving our access laws and making sure they are evolving in step with technology. I’d welcome a conversation with the Department of Education, the Governor, the Attorney General and the General Assembly about ways lawmakers can improve transparency in government so Hoosiers can see how their tax dollars are being spent. 
“For now, though, I’m relieved that we can get back to the important work of helping our schools, teachers, parents and students succeed.”
By helping our schools, teachers, parents and students succeed, Hendry means the Board will return to the work of remaking public education in Indiana for the sole benefit of the education profiteers for whom he and other board members are mere proxies.  

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