Executive session minutes released

Estacada School District settles public records lawsuit with citizens

The court-signed settlement of a public records lawsuit against the Estacada School District doesn't mean the parties are in agreement.

Before Clackamas County Circuit Court Judge John Lowe on Sept. 12, plaintiffs Mark Luedtke and Dora Morgan accepted a settlement from the school district that includes a copy of all documents relating to the Estacada Arthur Academy charter school application and $1,750 toward court costs. The settlement was signed last week.

Estacada School Board Chair Mark Greene said the District settled to save taxpayers from an expensive, lengthy trial that he is confident the District could have won.

Luedtke and Morgan see this milestone as a battle won, though they had originally hoped to receive these documents before taking the charter school proposal to the Oregon Department of Education in the spring of 2006. The lawsuit was filed Jan. 30, 2006.

Morgan and Luedtke believe the newest documents show that the school district lied about meetings and made decisions based on personalities rather than merits of the charter school application.

A March 20, 2006 Circuit Court Answer reads, 'Defendant denies that it considered a charter school application for Arthur Academy Charter School on February 9, 2005; but admits that it considered the Arthur Academy Charter School application on February 15, 2005 and March 1 and 9, 2005.'

In Judge Lowe's chambers in September, the District provided the plaintiffs with copies of the Feb. 15, March 1, March 9-and Feb. 9 executive session minutes.

The front page of the Feb. 9, 2005, minutes states that a school district attorney, 'explained the process and the statutes for the Charter School Hearing scheduled for Feb. 10, 2005.'

Greene explained that the district did not 'consider' the charter school application on Feb. 9. He said the board discussed the 'process' with its attorneys, which he says should not be public record due to attorney-client privilege.

Luedtke and Morgan are called 'basically nuts,' in the March 1, 2005 minutes by one of the school's attorneys.

Greene replied, 'There wasn't anything personal … Whether someone we hired had an issue, I don't know.'

He also noted that the state board of education also denied the charter school's application.

Financially, the $1,750 the school district must pay Luedtke barely scratches the $10,000 he spent on legal fees for the lawsuit. The district has not released how much its litigation costs were. Superintendent Mike Call is expected to make a public comment this week on the settlement.

One thing both groups appear to be agreeing upon: They're glad the lawsuit is over and they can move on.

'We should be moving along on the charter school and not doing what we're doing right now,' Morgan said.

'I don't even know why we're discussing the old application,' Greene said, noting that it has already been denied.