CUYAHOGA FALLS: A Cuyahoga Falls attorney has filed a lawsuit to force the Board of Education to release emails between board members and the superintendent.
Attorney Warner Mendenhall, who filed the court action on behalf of fellow lawyer Bradley LeBoeuf, said the suit is all about ensuring transparency from the district leaders.
“He’s interested in the decision-making process between the superintendent and the school board,” Mendenhall said.
The lawsuit is pending before Summit County Common Pleas Judge Tom Teodosio.
LeBoeuf made his records request May 22, seeking all emails sent and received between school board President Kellie Patterson, other board members and Superintendent Todd Nichols.
The request covers emails between Jan. 1 and May 22.
“There was zero response from the school board,” Mendenhall said. “They haven’t even said they need more time. They did nothing. That’s what forced us to file a lawsuit.”
While LeBoeuf didn’t receive a response from the board, that doesn’t mean his request was ignored, Nichols said. LeBoeuf had children attending Cuyahoga Falls schools when the request was made. The children have since transferred to another district.
“We sought the services of the attorney general’s mediation services to bring this whole thing to an end,” Nichols said. “We have found that the mediation services did not follow through. The attorney general’s office is in the process of reviewing the situation.”
In fact, LeBoeuf received a call from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s public records office Thursday. Mendenhall said his client might be amenable to mediation.
LeBoeuf’s isn’t the only public records request the school board received, many asking for the same emails. Some requests have been filled, others have not, officials said.
Nichols said the district wants the mediation process to determine what should be handed over as a public record.
Therese Dunphy, a former school board member, filed several requests. Some have been filled, some have not, she said.
She recently filed an application for mediation with the attorney general’s office for documents she has not received. She said she was informed of the service by the former public records officer with Cuyahoga Falls schools.
Nichols said the district received 39 public records requests between March and June.
In the 18 months before, they received “less than five,” he said.
Gina Mace can be emailed at email@example.com.