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McCutchen files Amended Complaint against Huntsville school district for violation of FOIA laws

Joey McCutchen

Fort Smith Attorney Joey McCutchen announced that he filed an Amended Complaint yesterday in the lawsuit against the Huntsville School District and Huntsville Public Schools Board of Education for violating Arkansas’ Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”).

The lawsuit arose from the Huntsville School Board's consideration of disciplinary action against male basketball players who repeatedly "baptized" other students in the locker room. The term "baptism" refers to basketball players restraining other students while other players placed their genitals on or in the faces of the restrained students.

The Board held the disciplinary meeting in violation of FOIA by failing to give notice to the media. It also failed to record the meeting, as required by state law.

The Amended Complaint adds five additional FOIA violations in which the Board held meetings without notifying the press or recording the meetings. The Board failed to notify the media in two other expulsion hearings in August 2020 and February 2021.

The Board failed to give notice of a meeting in which it discussed millage revenue for an activity center currently being constructed by the Huntsville School District. Additionally, the Board failed to give notice of a Title IX training session that it conducted on May 3, 2021, in response to the pending sexual assault investigation.

The suit also alleges a violation of FOIA in a series of text messages regarding whether or not to extend the District's mask mandate that were disseminated by Huntsville School Board President Danny Thomas to other School Board members.

“I think it's a violation of FOIA's open-meetings provision when the Board has secret text message discussions and holds meetings without giving notice to the public", McCutchen said. "The Board's repeated failure to notify the public about matters as important as these is disturbing and should not be allowed to continue."

You can see the entire Amended Complaint by clicking on this link:

Amended Complaint
Download PDF • 18.70MB

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