Q&A: School district litigation


From the Daily Journal (Franklin):

Q: A school district held an executive session under the Open Door Law provision concerning litigation. We understand that the school board used that session to hold a hearing on a grievance filed by the teachers union concerning benefits for substitute teachers.

Does that fit the exception noted for the executive session? 

A: A grievance complaint generally doesn’t include a threat of litigation.

The exception in question would require the school board to limit discussion to ongoing litigation, litigation that has been threatened in writing or litigation the board is considering filing against someone else.

Without a written threat as part of the complaint, the school board should not have met behind closed doors. Even if the grievance contained the required threat, the school board would be in violation with the executive session because it appears to have included the union representatives in the session and conducted a hearing on the issue.

The litigation provision, found at IC 5-14-1.5-6.1(b), states the session can be used only for discussion of strategy and cannot include the other side to the dispute.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.