Duluth School Board Holds Emergency Meeting

By KBJR News 1

August 6, 2010 Updated Sep 4, 2009 at 7:06 PM CDT

The Duluth school district and the group that sued it over the Red Plan are closer to throwing out the lawsuit.

The suit was filed by five people who are opposed to the district's Red Plan. The board met on Friday to discuss the terms under which they would agree to withdraw from the lawsuit.

One of the items of business was a decision to bar one member of the board from participating in the lawsuit discussions. The board voted to ban Gary Glass from a vote on the issue due to conflict of interest concerns.

"We have the right to exclude any member of the board from a closed discussion," said Tim Grover, Duluth School Board chairperson.

With that decision made, the board went behind closed doors. When they emerged, they voted to give their attorney the go-ahead to seek dismissal of the litigation. Last week the five plaintiffs asked that they be allowed to drop their suit, which alleged that the contract the district has with Johnson Controls is illegal.

One of the main stumbling blocks to dismissing the lawsuit is a $100,000 surety bond the court required the plaintiffs to post. The judge ruled the bond was necessary to protect taxpayers from costs associated with the litigation. One of the plaintiffs has said he won't drop the lawsuit unless the board returns that money. That is one of the things the district's attorney must decide.

In the meantime board member Gary Glass was upset at being excluded from the emergency meeting.

"I do believe that I do not have a conflict of interest," said Glass.

The board asked Glass if he or any member of his family had contributed to the surety bond.

"You did not answer the question directly, nor did you respond the same in the back (behind closed doors) Gary, so let's stop playing games here," said Mary Cameron, Duluth School Board member.

In the meantime lawsuit plaintiff Harry Welty says members of 'Let Duluth Vote' are concentrating on supporting the candidates who are running on their behalf for the school board.