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Former member sues board

Accuses district of not keeping meeting minutes

YOUNGSTOWN — A former Youngstown Board of Education member has filed a lawsuit against the board for violating the state’s open meetings law by not having minutes of numerous board meetings dating back to June 2019 through March 30, 2021.

Dario D. Hunter, who ran for and won a seat on the board as an independent candidate in 2015, is seeking to force the board to provide minutes of approximately 61 meetings held during that time period and to begin making records available after all future meetings.

Hunter lost his re-election bid in 2019.

“I spent years attempting to obtain minutes of meetings that as an elected board they are required to maintain and make available to anyone seeking information,” Hunter said. “The law requires them to have minutes of the meetings available to the public upon request. I’ve made requests for board minutes on numerous occasions.”

Hunter said he is not aware of any other public organization that fails to maintain minutes of meetings in such an out-of-hand fashion.

“It is not that the board has missed maintaining records of one or two meetings, this his been consistent,” he said. “It is to the point that the board does not care to make sure the minutes of the meetings are kept. I have tried to get them to do their jobs.”

Board member Brenda Kimble called the lawsuit ridiculous.

“He was on the board in 2019,” Kimble said. “He did not do anything about making the minutes available while he was on the board.”

While the written minutes may not have been available, Kimble said audio recordings of the board meetings are available.

“He could have requested the recordings,” Kimble said. “How has he been damaged by the written minutes not being available.”

Kimble said Hunter was just looking to cause trouble.

She said the board has twice passed resolutions for district Chief Executive Officer Justin Jennings to provide someone to take minutes of the board meetings, like he does for his meetings.

Hunter emphasized that it is the board’s responsibility to record, maintain and make minutes available, not members of the district’s administration.

Board member Jackie Adair has previously questioned why board minutes are not available prior to every board meeting, saying it is up to the district treasurer to provide someone to record and translate the minutes of the meetings.

Adair did not respond to calls from The Vindicator about the lawsuit.

Board president Ronald Shadd said he is talking to the board’s legal representatives about the lawsuit.

District spokeswoman Denise Dick said the district would not comment at this time because it is pending litigation.

Hunter is seeking to have the board comply with all provisions of the Ohio Open Meetings Act, including preparing, filing and maintaining minutes of all meetings and the awarding of a civil forfeiture of $500 per violation, a total amounting of more than $25,000, as well as any court costs.

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