By Tom Tolen

A Livingston County Circuit Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit against five Livingston County school superintendents and four other county officials, calling the suit “without merit”. Chief Circuit Court Judge Michael Hatty recently dismissed the lawsuit filed by Yvonne Black of Howell, who accused the officials of violating the Open Meetings Act.

Named in the suit were the following superintendents: Michael Hubert of the Livingston Educational Service Agency, Erin MacGregor of the Howell Public Schools, Matthew Outlaw of the Brighton Area Schools, Chuck Hughes of the Hartland Consolidated Schools and Rick Todd of the Pinckney Community Schools; along with Livingston County Health Department Director Dianne McCormick, Livingston County Administrator Nathan Burd and Livingston County commissioners Mitchell Zajac and Brenda Plank. The suit also accused the group of violating the Open Meetings Act.

In his concise written decision, Judge Hatty granted a motion for summary disposition by McCormick, Burd, Zajac and Plank and in essence dismisses the First Amendment complaint by Black. Summary disposition, including dismissal of the First Amendment complaint, was also granted to the five superintendents. However, it was dismissed without prejudice, meaning that Black, as the plaintiff, could conceivably re-file her lawsuit at some point in the future.

Black claimed that she had become aware last October that the group had been meeting weekly behind closed doors, “Intentionally avoiding the Open Meetings Act to collaborate, deliberate, discuss, conspire and implement policy in Livingston County public schools outside of public witness,” which she said denied her the right to attend and make comment. The suit further alleged that policies were then being implemented without board of education members voting on them.