Monday, July 20, 2009

Court of Appeals sides with School District in public records dispute

The Ninth District Court of Appeals for Ohio sided today with a school district today in a public records dispute.

The case, State ex rel. Johnson v. Oberlin City School Dist. Bd. of Edn., 2009-Ohio-3526, stems from a denial of a public records request to the Oberlin School District Board of Education. The bylaws and policies of the Oberlin City School District provide that each year, the school board must evaluate the Superintendent and provide teh Superintendent with a written copy of the evaluation. The board then relies upon the evaluation in determining whether or not to renew the Superintendent's contract.

This process requires individual board members to evaluate the Superintendent and then give their results on the Board President, who uses the evaluations to compile the Superintendent’s composite evaluation. In her public records request, Johnson requested the evaluations submitted by the individual members of the Board. Johnson’s request was denied on the basis that individual evaluations are not public records as defined by R.C. 149.43.

The court affirmed the decision of the trial court, finding that only the final evaluation is a public record under R.C. 149.43.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Court of Appeals upholds trial court's narrow interpretation of "salary" in R.C. 3319.12 for teacher with continuing contract

The Twelfth District Court of Appeals held today that a school board does not violate R.C. 3319.12 when it fails to pay a continuing contract teacher the entire amount her contract requires when that teacher does not work the amount of days required in the contract.

At issue in the case was Carla A. Varasso, an art teacher with a continuing contract. That contract required her to work 183 days of the year
for an annual salary of $56,422.16, or $308.32 per day. However, in May 2004, Ms. Varasso was severely injured in an accident that left her unable to teach again until Fall 2005. By the time she returned, she had missed 58 days of the school year, only nine of which had been covered by sick leave.

Thus, Ms. Varasso had her compensation reduced for the time that she was off of work without sick leave. She thus filed suit, alleging a violation of R.C. 3319.12 which prohibits reducing teacher's salaries from the amount that they made the year before, unless the reduction is part of a uniform plan adopted by the school district.

The 12th District found that "salary" meant "rate of pay" and as long as the teacher was paid the same rate of pay for the days she worked, there was no violation of the statute.

The case is Varasso v. Williamsburg Local School Dist. Bd. of Edn., 2009-Ohio-3419.