Centerville school board trial postponed until June

Jan. 29—CENTERVILLE — A new date for the civil trial involving the Centerville School Board and the Iowa Freedom of Information Council has been set.

The trial will begin on Wednesday June 12 after being postponed from its original date of January 10. The five-month delay is due to weather concerns during the recent series of winter storms.

IFOIC filed the complaint in May following reports of a closed session to determine the employment and job qualifications of Ryan Hodges, a former Centerville High School guidance counselor, which was held on February 3. During the session, the district said it was determined that Hodges would no longer have the professional skills necessary to retain his position.

IFOIC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused on government transparency issues in Iowa. The Ottumwa Courier is a financial member of IFOIC, and its executive director and editor-in-chief Kyle Ocker serves on the nonprofit organization’s board of directors.

At 7:03 p.m., the meeting returned to open session and school board member Derek Carter moved to approve Hodges’ resignation. The motion was adopted unanimously and the meeting adjourned at 7:04 p.m.

In the board’s brief, it was noted that Hodges had been placed on administrative leave three months earlier and resigned earlier in the week. The board ratified an agreement “in secret under the guise of conducting a performance review.”

Hodges was accused of sexual misconduct with a former student. That student filed her own complaint in November, citing bullying after accusing Hodges.

The district claims the open meetings law, or Iowa Code Chapter 21, was not violated, since the code states that 24 hours’ notice must be given “before the commencement of any meeting of a government agency, except for good.” because such notice is impossible or impractical, in which case reasonably practicable notice must be given.”

The district also asserts that all statutory predicates for a closed session…

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