Union claims College of Mainland trustees violated Open Meetings Act

By John Suayan, Galveston Bureau | Jun 25, 2012

GALVESTON - An employee union of a local community college alleges the school's board of trustees committed actions that violated the Texas Open Meetings Act and has filed a lawsuit.

In a lawsuit filed June 14 in Galveston County District Court, COM-Unity asserts the College of the Mainland's board voted to approve layoffs and pay cuts at its regularly scheduled meeting on April 30 though its published agenda "did not provide sufficient information on the subject."

According to the original petition, the board's Human Resource Committee met in a closed meeting the morning of the date in question, returned to open session and voted on a report to present to the full board without open session discussion.

The suit shows "the same pattern existed" at the regular board meeting.

Recent court documents explain that said agenda did not clearly specify that a vice president, an associate vice president and the COM Foundation director were being considered for non-renewal of their contracts.

The suit says the defendants "failed to follow the dictates of the act" when they reportedly failed to discuss the pay cuts in open session, citing a state provision calling for open session deliberation about a class of employees.

It also claims the respondents were legally prohibited from having closed meetings to deliberate the appointments and layoffs of employees.

Consequently, COM-Unity seeks a temporary injunction which aims to reverse the board's actions.

The union is represented by attorney Anthony P. Griffin of Galveston.

Galveston County 405th District Court Judge Wayne Mallia is presiding over the case.

Case No. 12-cv-1360

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