Saginaw School Board leader sues district - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Saginaw School Board leader sues district

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(11/01/13) - More trouble for Saginaw Public Schools. This time it's coming in the form of a lawsuit.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the district announced a pay cut for staff. Now it's being sued by the school board president.

School Board President Rudy Patterson is not satisfied with the minutes of school committee meetings on paper - he wants audio recordings.

The school district at this point is saying, 'we can't do that.'

"Being in my position, we get a lot of things sometimes that you are not expecting,' said Saginaw Schools Superintendent Carlton Jenkins.

The latest thing that Jenkins wasn't expecting is a lawsuit from the school district's own school board president. Patterson wants copies of audio recordings of three school board committee meetings in July and August through the Freedom of Information Act. In the lawsuit, Patterson says the written minutes of the meetings may not include negative comments about Jenkins recommendations for the district.

"The minutes of our meetings are there for the public," Jenkins said.

But the school district says it can't provide audio recordings of the meetings, which are recorded on an electronic pen.

Jenkins says anyone from the public, including Patterson, can come to the administration building and listen to the recordings. But the district can't provide a copy of the recording.

"The recording is the same thing they would hear at the meeting," Jenkins said.

Patterson is asking for punitive damages and attorney fees in the legal fight. When ABC12 asked Jenkins if he thought this was a frivolous lawsuit for the cash-strapped district, Jenkins declined to comment.

"We are going to continue to stay focused on student achievement and on our deficit elimination plan to make sure we are fiscally responsible," Jenkins said.
We could not reach Patterson for comment Friday.

We did speak with his attorney, Michael Forster. He believes the school district, by law, must provide a copy of the audio recording of those meetings.

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