Streetsboro school district reaches 'negotiated settlement' with Allen; Councilman pays $13,000 to School Board

by mike lesko | Reporter Published:

Streetsboro -- The Streetsboro Board of Education unanimously agreed to a resolution agreement with Streetsboro resident and business owner Jeff Allen, who agreed to pay $13,000 to the Board of Education after he unsuccessfully tried to sue it. The resolution, which was read at the March 13 Board of Education meeting, means there will be no more legal action on either side, and there is no admission of wrongdoing by either side.

On Aug. 2, 2013, visiting Portage County Common Pleas Court Judge Marvin A. Shapiro ruled in favor of the Board of Education in a legal complaint filed by Allen, who alleged the Board violated the state's open meetings law, commonly referred to as the "Sunshine Law."

"Obviously, I don't like the court's decision, but I respect it," Allen said. "I believe a democracy only works if it's transparent."

The $13,000 payment will be "held in trust by counsel for the Board," according to the resolution agreement that Superintendent Michael Daulbaugh read at the March 13 School Board meeting. Daulbaugh confirmed after the meeting that Allen had already made the payment.

Allen said March 17 he and the Board of Education "decided to resolve this matter to avoid further litigation and expense by both parties."

"This agreement represents a compromise and shall not be construed as an admission of liability or wrongdoing by either party," Allen said. "I have been a strong financial supporter of many charitable causes in my hometown of Streetsboro and its city school system. I am a true believer in our community, its future and the transparency of government. I will continue to be a strong financial supporter and advocate in the future.

Following Shapiro's ruling, the School Board members filed a motion Sept. 3 for costs and attorneys' fees what they referred to as "frivolous conduct" by Allen.

After a hearing was scheduled Dec. 13 in Shapiro's court room, both sides reached the "negotiated settlement to avoid further litigation."

Daulbaugh previously said after Shapiro's ruling that he looks forward to moving ahead with the district's facilities improvements.

Allen claimed the School Board failed, in Shapiro's words, "to conduct public meetings and discussions prior to voting on a resolution … approving a renovation and construction project for the school district with particular objections to the scope of the project and its contents."

In his judgement, Shapiro said the plaintiff (Allen) had to prove "when and how the defendants (School Board) violated the law." Shapiro said he was unconvinced by the plaintiff's arguments.

Email: mlesko@recordpub.com

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