Garfield Heights City School Administrators, Will They Violate Section 149.43 of the ORC and the Ohio Sunshine Laws?

Brown on Cleveland
Marquee Garfield Heights Board of EducationCourtesy of The Brown Report Newspaper (Photo)

Garfield Heights, OH. - Recently, Garfield Heights Teachers' Association unanimously agreed to issue Garfield Heights City School District a 10-day strike notice as they deemed necessary per their media press release on Friday, September 23, 2022. The teachers are said to be the lowest-paid teachers in Cuyahoga County and are currently working without a contract. Their last contract ended July 20, 2022. The adverse concerns are safety, stability, success, fair wages, and benefits. Due to the School Board and the inability to develop are workable contract of mutual agreement, the Teachers' Association requested a Federal Mediator.

As a Federal Mediator is pending to aid parties with their contract dispute, various media outlets have approached the Garfield School City Schools for additional information. On Monday, September 26, 2002, Brown on Cleveland and Cleveland 19news TV visited the Board of Education Building at 5640 Briarcliff Drive in an attempt to meet with school officials to gather data via a public records request. Brown on Cleveland discovered that Garfield Heights City Schools do not have a formal process to request general information. We do not have a form for public records requests regarding our School Board. You must speak with Superintendent Dr. Reginald Reynolds or his assistant Betty," stated the front office clerk.
Dr. Reginald Reynolds Superintendent Garfield City SchoolsCourtesy of Garfield Heights City Schools (Photo)

Brown on Cleveland sent a public records request to Superintendent Dr. Reynolds via email. Reynolds did not acknowledge the request.

Following the no-response from Reynolds, the clerk referred us to the Garfield Heights City School Treasurer and CFO, Allen D. Sluka. Brown on Cleveland, left a message for Sluka and sent an email. Sluka failed to respond. As a result, we requested to speak with someone from the legal department. We do not have a law department or a lawyer at the Central office," the clerk stated. For clarification reasons, we asked her if she was sure, and the clerk responded yes.
Allen Sluka, CFO Garfield City School DistrictCourtesy of Garfield Heights City Schools (Photo)

As per the Ohio Revised Code section, 149.43 - Availability of public records for inspection and copying states, Public record means records kept by any public office, including, but not limited to, state, county, city, village, township, and school district units, and records about the delivery of educational services by an alternative school in this state kept by the nonprofit or for-profit entity operating the alternative school according to section 3313.533 of the Revised Code.

Garfield Heights City School Administrators and Board appear to be violating the Ohio Revised Code and the Sunshine Law. The Sunshine Laws give residents access to government meetings and records. The Public Records Act and Open Meetings Act, also known as Sunshine Laws, create an open government and help residents observe and participate in government meetings and activities and access records.

To understand how the Garfield Heights School Board functions and the culture of the Central Office, information gathering is essential for why the teachers may strike. We are interested in the $31,500.00 bill for a Motivational Speaker on their financial statement and the transportation company that contracted with the schools. The issue of transportation raised questions from School Board President Nichelle Daniels at the last School Board Meeting when she questioned Allen Sluka, the CFO, about background checks.

Brown on Cleveland sought the following information from Garfield Heights City School District:

  • A copy of the contract between Garfield Heights School Board, the Garfield Heights city school, and the Premier Speaker Bureau for a Motivational and Inspirational speaker. Please see your finance report. The contract is for the amount of $31,500.00
  • A copy of the RFP for the GHCS Motivational/Inspirational Speaker for $31,500.00
  • A copy of the Grant for a Motivational Speaker/Inspirational Speaker
  • A copy of the attendance sheet, the full schedule, and any post surveys regarding the people who attended the session with the Motivational speaker - Improving Teachers Quality.
  • A copy of the proposed teachers' contract for the Garfield Heights Teachers' Association (GHTA)
  • A copy of the committee report read by School Board Member Millet King during the September school board meeting between the dates of 9.14.22 to 9.20.22 regarding the school board negotiation process with the GHTA
  • A copy of the RFP for school transportation 
  • A copy of the Garfield Heights School Board contract between and with any current 2022-23 school transportation companies responsible for transporting young people within the Garfield Heights school district and verifying background checks as per the ORC.
  • A copy of the Garfield Heights Board of Education bidding process/policies and all of the requests sent via email, mail, and public publications 
  • A copy of all public bids regarding student transportation and all copies of the RFP request sent to local and national publications and these items we request.

On Wednesday, September 27, 2022, we received a call from a State Public Official advising us to file a legal complaint against Garfield City Schools with the Ohio Supreme Court for possibly violating section 149.43 of the Ohio Revised Code, the Ohio Sunshine Laws. Brown on Cleveland will consider this option should Garfield Heights City Schools fail to submit requested data within a reasonable time frame.

Meanwhile, the Garfield Heights Teachers' Association is pondering a strike. The people in the region will be negatively impacted if the Association moves on with this action. Chicago Lovenheim and Willén linked teacher collective bargaining with Teachers' effects on students' future labor market outcomes, particularly for males and people of color. According to data-city, the City of Garfield Heights is 48% African American, 47% White, and 3% others.

Online library found that strikes reduced educational attainment and increased class repetition. "We also find that the strikes led to a significant reallocation of students to a lower level of higher education." Overall, the results suggest that teacher strikes can lead to substantial costs for those not involved in the conflict. A teacher strike negatively impacts the economy, neighboring communities, and the workforce. "If teachers go on strike, some parents may be unable to return to work due to childcare issues. Due to Covid-19, our children are already behind, and this mess; is due to poor leadership. Garfield Schools needs to get on the ball. They don't want us to know what is happening - they are keeping us in the dark. If Administrators and School Board don't want to inform the media, something must be wrong. The media is where most of us get our news. Again this situation is another dark cloud over our schools," says parent Jo Ann Williams.

Will Garfield Heights City School Administrators and Board violate section 149.43 of the Ohio Revised Code and the Sunshine Laws?

Will Garfield Heights Teachers Association opt to go on strike?

These answers are yet to come.

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"Brown On Cleveland" features podcast host, former licensed social worker, an occasional National FOX News Network guest, and social justice activist Kimberly F. Brown. Brown is a former talk show host with WOVU.95fm. She has over 20 years of experience as an on-air radio personality. Brown is the Chief Administrator of The Brown Report Newspaper. Brown's background is in investigative reporting.

Cleveland, OH

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