School board allowed privacy rights in personnel matters

Ruling seen as a win for local government entities throughout Ohio

Public bodies sometimes struggle to do business when privacy is warranted during deliberations. In this case, a school board had to consider the dismissal of an employee who was accused of data-rigging to falsely enhance the district’s performance.

The board met in a closed executive session to consider the dismissal, despite an open meetings law requiring boards to meet publically when asked by the employee. The employee had requested a public meeting and the board refused.

Isaac Wiles filed a brief on behalf of the Ohio School Boards Association arguing that the board could meet in private to deliberate because the employee had no right to require a public hearing on his firing.  The court ruled in favor of the Association, and as a result, public employers run by boards, including counties and townships and cities, may deliberate privately before deciding whether to discipline an employee.