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Armstrong Sues Fellow School Board Members, District Treasurer

After leaving an executive session a few weeks ago, School Board Member Rod Armstrong filed a complaint in Summit County Common Pleas Court.

Stow-Munroe Falls School Board Member Rod Armstrong filed a complaint Monday claiming there was an "improper convening of executive sessions [Aug. 13, 2012], failure to record minutes of public meetings, violation of free speech and defamation."

 before it was over because he said it was an "illegal meeting."

"On Monday night SMFCSD Board went in to an executive meeting of which I had no prior knowledge," Armstrong previously wrote in a statement, reported by the Stow Sentry. "I soon realized that this was an illegal meeting which should have been under the guideline of [Ohio Revised Code] 121.22 (g) (1). At that time I left the meeting."

a YouTube video of the Aug. 13 meeting.

The complaint was filed by Armstrong's attorney, Warner Mendenhall — who was not immediately available for comment — in Summit County Court of Common Pleas Aug. 28.

The suit was filed against Treasurer/CFO Catherine Bulgrin and all of Armstrong's fellow elected board members. 

The district's attorney, Adam Miller, was not immediately available for comment. 

In the complaint, Armstrong is asking the board to “provide and maintain accurate minutes of all meetings and to provide adequate reasons for executive sessions in conformity with Ohio law.” He also asks for $500 for each executive session that could be deemed inaccurate without the proper records of minutes.

For more updates as they come in, continue to check Stow Patch

Bulldog Alum August 28, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Those who have never questioned this administration may not realize how hopeless being on "the wrong side" of SMFCSD feels. People who doubt decisions from Central Office find themselves purposely marginalized. At last evening's meeting, as in previous exchanges, citizens who question the board were advised by an administrator that those who don't like it ought to leave...as in leave town. Like him or not, Rod Armstrong is an elected representative of the people. Enough among us respected his questions and concerns to vote him in. He has a responsibility to ask the tough stuff. This does not make him a trouble-maker. It makes him an active board member. Yet, doing so seems to have landed him in the same place as his constituents---on the outside looking in. True collaborative representation is not a constant 4 to 1 vote. This may be a last ditch attempt at pushing the reset button. If so, Trustee Armstrong is right to insist on a place at the boardroom table for those he represents, those who choose to support SMF schools by actively seeking awareness and accountability. With the corporate climate of SMF BoE apparently approaching HELL, doesn't every member of the BoE bear responsibility? If the editor asks Armstrong, he will probably tell Patch that he intends to return any monetary compensation he receives from this action to SMFCSD. How do I know? I simply asked.
Kent Benson August 28, 2012 at 07:44 PM
But Warner has to make his money somehow. He loves the causes of malcontents. Remember the Plusquellic recall attempt? More taxpayers dollars wasted there.
Mike Barnes August 28, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Can a public official remain in office while suing the entity he represents? It would seem like it could lead to executive sessions Rod could not attend, votes he could not make and in general make him an ineffective elected official. The last thing we need is another ineffective elected official. I think he should resign to pursue his desire to sue the families of Stow and Munroe Falls. We are, after all the people who would pay IF he should win.
Larry Kinnan August 28, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Using Mike's logic then the whole board should resign along with the CFO until the suit is settled or dismissed. Also to clarify the suit is against the current board and CFO not the families of Stow and Munroe Falls.
Michelle August 28, 2012 at 08:43 PM
I am glad to say that I support Rod. Maybe the public will get the answers they want.
Bob Dianetti August 28, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Yep - apparently Mr. Armstrong is all about principles. And not about students. Tell the teachers who have to pay for classroom materials out of their own pockets that the money Armstrong is causing to be squandered in the name of principles couldn't be better used for the benefit of the students. Students don't care about the "principles" of people like Mr. Armstrong. They care about getting a good education and getting decent jobs. As they say, "you can't eat principles". The School Board exists to serve the students. Board members who forget this shouldn't be re-elected.
Bulldog Alum August 28, 2012 at 10:48 PM
Hey Bob, how long you been sleeping under that rock ? This school system as well as the town has been crooked for years, just ask Mr Barnes. Read some of the check registers from the board meetings off the SMF web site. You will be amazed on what they spend and how much.
No Name, yea!!!! August 28, 2012 at 11:02 PM
Was there not a suit filed by a certain administrator, without the boards approval, against a community action group? Did the board, at that time, then have to approve funds, for the administrator to continue taking action against the community action group?
Te Campbell August 28, 2012 at 11:08 PM
No need for the community to become even more fractured. The stakes are already too high. The district has battled lawsuits to defend it's reputation in the past-even initiated them. As the out-going director stated last evening, [I may not have it verbatim] the people who make the tough decisions are often the targets. If the people in question have broken laws, they should pay to defend themselves (except for the employee). If they are found innocent, Armstrong should cover their fees. After all, Armstrong is handling the cost to bring the case forward from his own pocket. Right? Regardless of the outcome, this should not be the taxpayer's burden and I fail to see why it has to be. My thought is that the proof will be in the pudding. If Armstrong looses, he should step down. If he wins, the remainder of the board should do the same. Looser pays all fees and fines. Since it is so far gone, don't argue; let the court decide. Then, maybe we can all get back to working together-sans any board member/s who have acted inappropriately on either end.
BULLDOG August 28, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Really bob , then why do the parents get a long list every year for supplies !!!!.and pay a fee to take classes.OR how about paying for parking permits for high school .DO the teachers pay for there spots or is that just a gift from the taxpayers.
Bob Dianetti August 28, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Making a broad statement that the town and school are both "crooked" is probably a bit of exaggeration, don't you think? If laws were broken, why weren't charges filed? I find it hard to believe that Stow, which is run by our friends and neighbors, can be as crooked and corrupt as all that. All I know is that now a certain board member has decided to unilaterally force the district to use hard won tax dollars to finance his little vendetta against those who have dared to disagree with him. Certainly a person of his stature and position in the community would have much better ways of dealing with this in a much more constructive and cost efficient manner. The courts are (or should be) a last resort. I haven't seen this individual try to work with anybody in a non-confrontational manner. Perhaps this appeals to some people who see enemies behind every tree and under every rock. But to the majority of Stow citizens, I'll bet they would have appreciated a more mature way of handling things.
Bulldog Alum August 28, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Thank You. Perfect ! someone nailed it on the head. End of story.
Tom Mcfalls August 28, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Hey Bulldog Alum you are again just one of the constant complainers. There is always a conspiracy. The treasurer has had clean audits how many times? You and your group including the one bringing suit has a vendetta against certain people in this school system. Get over it and move on. There are to many good things going on in Stow for this. This needs to stop and he needs to drop this lawsuit. Now
No Name, yea!!!! August 28, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Like when Mr. Bonacci stated I am done, Rod I am done with you, during the August 14th school board meeting? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcosBD0vqW8 start point 5:23
Te Campbell August 28, 2012 at 11:39 PM
If laws were broken, Armstrong has a responsibility to pursue justice. If he is mistaken, he should apolgize, make retribution and leave office immediately. Until we have a verdict, why speculate for the sake of debate?
Bulldog Alum August 29, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Every town and school is " crooked " in one way or the other it's just normal. This is not Stow - 1968' anymore. Wake-up -- People !!
Bulldog Alum August 29, 2012 at 12:26 AM
All towns and schools are "crooked" in one way or another it's just normal. Why do you think we are having this conversation, something bad is going on and it is not because we have bad people, only people doing bad things.
Bulldog Alum August 29, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Tom, Not a constant complainer just promoting Truth, Honesty and The American Way.
Tom Mcfalls August 29, 2012 at 12:44 AM
Hey Bulldog you aren't promoting anything. You need to get something to do.
Tom Mcfalls August 29, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Bulls*#@t Alum every school and town is crooked? Come on you just throw that out there. You have issues. Making accusations with no proof. You try and drag good people down. You are right YOU ARE THE PEOPLE THAT DO BAD THINGS.
Tom Mcfalls August 29, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Didn't you already bring this up? get a life
Stevie Cea August 29, 2012 at 02:33 AM
So watching the video from that night, Mr. Armstrong agrees to go into confidential executive session ("Aye", he votes), finds out that he's the one being chastised, and then complains that the executive session is illegal. Seemed to have no problem voting for it until he found out it was to discuss him. When you vote for a crusader instead of a practical guy working constructively to get things accomplished, then... yeah... you get a guy like this.
Larry Kinnan August 29, 2012 at 11:39 AM
And let's not forget the money wasted on a special election to slip the levy through. Any outrage on that one Bob?
Te Campbell August 29, 2012 at 12:20 PM
I saw that video too. Though I will admit that I am not as familiar with the board lingo as I would expect board reps to be, I really had no idea what the proposed executive session was about as I watched it motioned and voted upon. Maybe...just maybe, they voted it in solely on Wright's request, because she wanted to talk about something unknown to them in private. How can any of them be faulted for agreeing to discuss a fellow board member's concern? I just think that we should give all of our public servants the benefit of the doubt until we know more about this situation.
I.M. Wright August 29, 2012 at 12:26 PM
"shewithnoclue", err I mean name -- What "corrupt practices" are you referring to? Oh, you're just using terms you don't know the meaning of because you're as clueless/ignorant as Armstrong -- along with others who sling accusations they can't back up. Derp!
Susan August 29, 2012 at 12:44 PM
@ Bob Dianetti - Exactly.
Bob Dianetti August 29, 2012 at 03:23 PM
My guess is that Mendenhall is handling this on a contingency basis. Its the way most lawyers seem to work for plaintiffs.
Bob Dianetti August 29, 2012 at 03:26 PM
If laws were broken, wouldn't that be a criminal case with a prosecuter involved? Armstrongs "case" is a civil action. "Justice" in these cases usually means $. Just look at the lawyer advertisements in the yellow pages.
John Henry September 19, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Why does the treasurer have so much power. Could it be her cousin sits on the board. She's hiding things. Just look at her staff. Being asked to work with the doors locked during business hours so board members may not have access to their files. The treasurer must go.
stow supporter September 19, 2012 at 04:45 PM
@John. She is hiding things? That's a joke. How many audits does she have to pass? I would say that her records should be locked up. The board members should have to go through the Treasure for records. They cannot just come in and grab whatever they want.

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