WILL Files Open Meetings Complaint Against Kenosha School Board

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The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (“WILL”) filed a complaint asserting that the Kenosha School Board violated the Open Meetings Law on October 22, 2013 when it voted to begin collectively bargaining with the employees’ unions.  The vote was taken without giving the public any notice that the Board was considering such action.  WILL is asking for the Board motion that permitted the collective bargaining to be declared null and void.

At an October 22, 2013 board meeting, Kenosha Unified School District Board Member Jo Ann Taube made a motion to authorize the Board and administration to begin collectively bargaining with the employees’ unions over both wages and working conditions.  It was approved, 4-3, with Kyle Flood, Carl Bryan, and Rebecca Stevens also voting in favor.  But the agenda for the October 22, 2013 meeting contained nothing indicating that the Board would be discussing and voting on engaging in collective bargaining.  Wisconsin law is very clear – the public must be given notice of the subject matter of a board meeting at least 24 hours in advance.  The lack of notice in this situation was even more concerning because the decision to engage in collective bargaining on working conditions is a violation of state law.

Explains CJ Szafir, WILL’s Education Policy Director, “This was no minor mistake.  Act 10 is the law of the land, so the School Board kept the public in the dark about its plans to violate state law by authorizing collective bargaining with the unions.  Had the media and people known about this controversial motion and voiced their opinions, the close, 4-3, vote may have gone the other way.”

The complaint was filed on behalf of a district taxpayer, Kristi Lacroix.  “Without any input from the public, the Board voted to illegally rollback the rights of teachers and taxpayers in the Kenosha Unified School District,” said Kristi.  “They have betrayed the people’s trust.”

The complaint was sent, as required by state law, to Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and the Kenosha County District Attorney.  Both offices have the opportunity to bring a case against the Kenosha School Board.  If neither of those offices files a lawsuit within 20 days, we will decide whether to bring a lawsuit ourselves.  State law gives citizens the right to act as “private attorney generals” and bring open meetings and records lawsuits on behalf of the people of the State.


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