Judge ruled in favor of Ann Arbor Schools on abandoned childcare complaint
ANN ARBOR, MI – A judge ruled in favor of Ann Arbor Public Schools and its Board of Education in a lawsuit alleging they violated the Open Meetings Act for deciding to stop their childcare program for school-age children for the School year 2021-22.
Washtenaw County’s 22nd District Court Judge Carol Kuhnke upheld AAPS’s motion for a restraining order after a hearing on Wednesday, October 6, and effectively dismissed the lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed on July 19 by AAPS parent and attorney David Hannon, asked the court to overturn AAPS’s decision to end school-age childcare for the 2021-22 school year and to compel the board and district To make “decisions in matters” public order only in public. “
Kuhnke’s decision comes a few months after rejecting Hannon’s injunction against the school district and board of directors to suspend AAPS’s decision to stop school-age childcare.
Despite the verdict, Hannon said he was glad the school committee recently welcomed a discussion highlighting the importance of public deliberation during one of its recent meetings with a moderator from the Michigan Association of School Boards.
“While I am disappointed with the decision, I appreciate the fact that the court addressed my concerns about the county process to initially cease follow-up,” said Hannon.
AAPS spokesman Andrew Cluley said the district will not comment on any litigation.
In their request for summary injunction, AAPS said Superintendent Jeanice Swift had publicly announced that the district would not be able to provide pre- and after-school care due to distance concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic and “severe staffing shortages”.
In the motion, AAPS argued that Hannon falsely claimed that all district decisions – including those made by individuals regardless of board actions or directives – fall within the scope of the Open Meetings Act if they concern public policy matters.
“The plaintiff falsely claims that the superintendent’s status as an employee of the board renders her incapable of acting independently of the board,” AAPS said in its motion. “In fact, the legislature intended that all school districts have an independent superintendent … Planke.” The legislature intended that the superintendent make decisions independently of a school authority. “
Ann Arbor Public Schools policies and regulations give the superintendent the authority to make decisions about all schools and staff in the district under the direction of the board of directors.
In addition to reporting on board meetings, the district states that it has provided updated childcare information to parents and guardians “through various communications,” noted AAPS in its response.
“At no time were decisions made by the board of directors, neither secretly nor in any other way,” said AAPS ‘response.
“The superintendent is the primary administrator of the district and, under the direction of the board, has general oversight and authority over all schools and staff in the district. The superintendent is responsible for the administration of the schools according to the guidelines of the board of directors and is accountable to the board of directors ”, states the guidelines and regulations of AAPS.
AAPS has reintroduced part of its pre and post school program for some students in five locations through its Rec & Ed department. It has also approved two childcare providers who previously managed pre- and post-care in three of its buildings to offer these services at reduced capacity this fall.
As a “redesign” of its extended daily program, the district has also organized more than 40 enrichment courses. Around 720 students are enrolled in enrichment courses this fall, said Jenna Bacolor, executive director of the AAPS Community Division, noting that course sizes have been reduced as a COVID-19 precaution.
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