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04-09-03: St. Marys school board appointment looks illegal
The Daily Standard

    ST. MARYS - The appointment of a St. Marys resident to fill the vacancy of former school board member Jeff Ginter appears to be illegal.
    A press release sent out Tuesday by school board President John Lampert announced that Anna Katterhenry "has been selected to fill the school board vacancy." But no public meeting was held for the board to make that decision.
    Lampert in a telephone interview Tuesday night confirmed the appointment and said the board did not hold a public meeting to make the decision, but instead made telephone calls to each other.
    "They are not allowed to make the appointment until they vote on it in open session," said Dave Marburger, an attorney at Baker and Hostetler in Cleveland, who specializes in open meeting regulations.
    When asked how Katterhenry was selected, both Lampert and board member Joyce Finke said board members discussed the 14 interested applicants through telephone conversations.
    "We just called each other and talked to each other at different times," Finke said. "We didn't have any scheduled meetings."
    According to the Ohio Sunshine Laws May 2001 edition, "all public bodies must take all official actions and hold all deliberations on official business in meetings that are open to the public."
    The update also says, "A public body must not circumvent the act by scheduling back-to-back discussions of public business, which, taken together, are attended by a majority of the members. Such 'round robin' or serial meetings appear to violate the Open Meetings Act."
    Marburger said that while maybe only two school board members were on the phone at a time, if a majority of the school board members were involved in the phone calls, it would constitute a meeting. All public bodies are required to hold public meetings on such action and announce the meetings with at least 24 hours notice.
    Along with saying Katterhenry already was "selected," the press release also says a board meeting would be held at 6 p.m. tonight in the high school library to formally make the appointment.
    Finke argued against The Daily Standard's stance that this decision was made illegally by saying Katterhenry would not be "officially" appointed until tonight's meeting.
    "She will not take the oath until tonight at 6 p.m.," Finke said.
    Lampert said Katterhenry was chosen over the other prospects because board members felt she was the best overall candidate.
    Katterhenry, 38, 03235 Ohio 219, has two children attending the school district and is the owner of LACO Laundry and Dry Cleaning in St. Marys. She was unavailable Tuesday and this morning, but responded to the appointment in a press release.
    "As a lifelong resident of the district and as a business leader in our community, I understand that there is a very serious scholastic and business side of running any school system," she said in the release. "I believe a positive and high quality school system can help provide growth in our community."
    Katterhenry has served as the after-prom coordinator, on the school board's business advisory council and on the Memorial High School principal advisory council. She also is a junior achievement instructor for sixth-graders and a reading mentor at St. Marys West Elementary School.


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All content copyright 2003
The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822