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Howard judge rules against Dyer in lawsuit

A Howard County Circuit Court judge ruled Thursday against school board member Allen Dyer, who sued four fellow members over interviews with candidates for the position of superintendent, claiming that the interviews violated the state Open Meetings Act.

Judge Raymond Kane said that he didn't believe the interviews, or their subsequent nondisclosure, violated Open Meetings Act requirements because they were an administrative function. Kane also said Dyer could not sue individual members of the board.

In May, Dyer had the four school board members served with legal complaints. The complaints said that during five days in March, board members held interviews with candidates for the superintendent position at a local hotel with its search firm. Dyer said that to protect the privacy of the applicants, they voted not to make the minutes of the interviews public at the next board meeting.

Dyer said that failure to disclose the meeting violated Open Meetings Act requirements and sued the members who he said had voted in favor of nondisclosure: Frank Aquino, Ellen Flynn Giles, Janet Siddiqui and Sandra French. Dyer had requested a fine of $500 against each, or $100 for each day interviews were held.

Eric Brousaides, attorney for the board, argued that the interviews were an administrative function and thus not covered by the Open Meetings Act.

Dyer said, "The question is whether the public had a right to know we met and whether they had a right to know in the minutes of our next board meeting."

Brousaides requested that Dyer pay counsel fees but did not specify an amount, and Kane said that the matter would be revisited later. After the proceedings, Brousaides said he would consult the board members to see if they want to move forward.

Dyer, who has filed several lawsuits against the school board, said he has never paid the panel's counsel fees. Currently he is battling the school board's request for his removal on the ground that he breached confidentiality requirements. The case is being heard by an administrative law judge. The school system's legal services office said that those proceedings have cost more than $63,000.

Dyer's term ends in early December; he lost a bid for re-election in the April primary.

joseph.burris@baltsun.com

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