Arizona Attorney General Sues Scottsdale Unified For Open Meeting Law Violations

In August, then-Scottsdale Unified School District’s Governing Board president Jann-Michael Greenburg enjoyed a maskless night out on a Saturday at a Tempe bar and grille while kids were forced to mask up.

On Monday, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD), for a violation of Arizona’s Open Meeting law.

The lawsuit seeks to have Board member Jann-Michael Greenburg removed, impose civil penalties on the board, and ensure no future Open Meeting Law (OML) violations occur.

The complaint alleges SUSD violated Arizona’s Open Meeting law while Greenburg was the president of the Board, by knowingly structuring an agenda and meeting so as to prohibit public comment about a proposed mask mandate and other subjects within the jurisdiction of the SUSD Governing Board, knowingly applying unauthorized content-based restrictions on public comment made during a board meeting, and knowingly cutting off or otherwise interrupting speakers during a call to the public.

“The Scottsdale School Board has a history of playing it loose with the law,” Rep. John Kavanagh told the Arizona Daily Independent. “About a decade ago, a parent complained to me because right in the middle of a high school orientation event for new freshman and their parents, all the television cameras broadcast a commercial for the school tax override. When I complained to the superintendent, he said they didn’t break the law because for the two minute period they broadcast the commercial, they rented the entire school to the group that supported the tax. I had to pass a new law that closed that loophole.”

“More recently,” continued Kavanagh, “when I showed up to protest some of their COVID-19 policies at a school board meeting, I was denied access even though I arrived half an hour early. They had picked a small room to hold the meeting in even though they had an auditorium available and a big crowd was expected. This current charge is just another example of the lack of respect SUSD has for the law and good for the attorney general for going after them.”

“I was one of the parents in attendance at the now infamous Scottsdale board meetings held during COVID,” said Carine Werner, mother of students in the District and candidate for the SUSD School Board. “I waited on the phone with prepared comments against the SUSD mask mandate, only to be told that I had to speak on an agenda item. A school board must be open to hear from the community they serve, even if public comments don’t fit their agenda. Our board’s lack of regard for parents’ opinions is one of the many reasons why I am running for a seat on the school board in November. Parents deserve district leadership who will listen to feedback and strive to find meaningful solutions that work for the whole community.”

“It’s unfortunate that we even have to deal with this in Scottsdale Unified, but there must be consequences to the violations made by board members to silence concerned parents and taxpayers,” said Amy Carney, mother of 6 and candidate for the SUSD School Board. “I’m thankful to our Attorney General for his diligence in following through with this suit. However, we must pay better attention to who we are voting on to our local school boards on November 8 and make sure they are leaders who will follow the law and be open to the feedback of the people they are elected to represent.”

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