Thursday, June 19, 2008
Nebraska Court of Appeals reverses teacher's dismissal when it found the Millard School Board violated the Nebraska Open Meetings Law when it made its decision in a closed session. Rominger Legal.Com. The case involves the 2006 firing of Tanya Bligh, who was a teacher at Russell Middle School. Following four days of hearings, the board determined that Bligh was an incompetent teacher and failed to meet Millard's performance standards, according to co rt records. But in terminating Bligh's contract, the board voted in closed session, the appeals court found. Bligh v. Douglas Cty. Sch. Dist. No. 0017, A-07-283, A-07-284the Board held its vote on Bligh’s contract in closed session. The Board announced the decision in open session, but failed to actually hold the vote in open session. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-829 (Reissue 2003) specifically provides that a teacher’s contract shall be deemed continuing and remain in full force unless the school board “by a vote of the majority of its members” determines that the contract should be terminated. We can think of no more “formal action” with respect to the termination of a teacher’s contract than the actual vote of the school board. In this case, the Board failed to comply with § 79-832 because the Board failed to take its “formal action” in open session. As such, we conclude that the district court’s orders in both appeals should be reversed, and we need not address the remaining errors alleged by Bligh.