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  • Writer's pictureTom Kamenick

Wauwatosa School Board Member Settles Meetings Case

Six-figure settlement resolves meetings and First Amendment retaliation claims


Wauwatosa School Board member Michael Meier has settled his Milwaukee County Circuit Court Wisconsin Open Meetings Law case against the Wauwatosa School Board for $132,500, according to one of his attorneys, Ben Hitchcock Cross of Cross Law Firm, a Wisconsin civil rights and employment lawyer. The settlement also resolves claims that the Board retaliated against him for speaking publicly about complaints he had received from parents and record requests he had fulfilled.

 

In his case, pending before Judge Glen Yamahiro, who earlier this year granted partial summary judgment to Meier, Meier alleged that the Wauwatosa School Board violated Wisconsin’s Open Meeting Law on at least five occasions. The allegations included discussing a record request he had fulfilled in closed session, holding a policy committee meeting in secret, and using a Google Docs file to collaborate outside of a properly noticed, public meeting.

 

Meier, who in 2023 won a Whistleblower OPEE award from the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, said “Good schools depend on good governance, and good governance depends on following the Wisconsin Open Meetings Law. I hope that my lawsuit gives other school board members the tools they need to hold their fellow board members accountable to the citizens with transparent processes.” Meier’s other attorney, Tom Kamenick, who specializes in public records and open meetings and runs the Wisconsin Transparency Project, said: “the dollar amount in this case speaks volumes about how seriously districts should take the open meetings law.” Kamenick added: “Lawsuits are sometimes necessary to remind school boards of the importance of transparency. Members like Mr. Meier who are willing to stand up and object when laws are being broken are vital to accountability.”

 

On June 11, 2024, in an unprecedented process, the entire Wauwatosa School Board met with Meier and his legal counsel to mediate the dispute. “Mr. Meier’s extraordinary tenacity and that of his supporters has paid off for the pupils, the District, for all of Wisconsin and clean government,” said Attorney Hitchcock Cross. “Secret Meetings lead to secret deals and as our Legislature determined years ago, Wisconsin’s government must be public.”

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