Monday we told you about Dallas ISD v. Peters, a case in which the board voted to terminate an assistant principal’s contract. The hitch was that the board voted to do this while still in closed session. Whoops!!
As we explained on Monday, the Court of Appeals brushed this aside, because the case was brought under the Education Code, not the Open Meetings Act. Monday’s Daily Dawg explained why that was important.
But the A.P. also filed a straightforward suit under TOMA, claiming that this vote in closed session was void. Therefore, he argued, he was never properly terminated and should be put back to work with back pay.
The Court ruled against him on that point also. The Court held that the A.P. did not have “standing” to bring this case. The Court noted that our Texas Courts of Appeal have disagreed about what it takes to have “standing” under TOMA. But in this case, the Court held that no possible theory would avail the A.P. The Court noted that the main thing TOMA guarantees the general public is 1) notice of the meeting; and 2) an opportunity to observe to vote. The A.P. in this case had notice, and he observed the vote, having been present in the closed session when the vote took place. Thus he did not suffer an injury, and was not in a position to sue over the TOMA violation.
Lawyers will want to read this part of the Court’s analysis carefully, especially the description of the split among the courts as to the proper standard for “standing.”
Now that I have written about this case twice, I hope you are interested in knowing why this guy got canned. If so, you’ll need to tune in tomorrow for a discussion of the proper, and improper, use of force by educators.
The case of Dallas ISD v. Peters was decided by the Court of Appeals for the 5th District of Texas (Dallas) on December 14, 2015. It can be found at 2015 WL 8732420.
DAWG BONE: REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU JUST READ, DON’T EVER LET THE BOARD TAKE A VOTE IN CLOSED SESSION.