College of Mainland trustees formally counter union's Open Meetings lawsuit

By John Suayan, Galveston Bureau | Jul 24, 2012


GALVESTON - A local community college's board of trustees entered its formal response to litigation against it, recent court records show.

COM-Unity sued the College of the Mainland trustees last month on allegations they committed actions that violated the Texas Open Meetings Act.

According to the original petition filed June 14, the defendant 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."

The plaintiff argues 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, adding "the same pattern existed" at the regular board meeting.

Contract non-renewal considerations for a vice president, an associate vice president and the COM Foundation director were not clearly specified in the aforementioned agenda and pay cuts were not discussed in open session, the suit adds.

The defendants' original answer, submitted July 6 before the Galveston County 405th District Court, offers a general denial of the union's allegations and reserves the right to amend.

It contends the individual defendants are entitled to qualified immunity while the school can invoke sovereign/governmental immunity.

The three-page document ultimately states that "the plaintiff has failed to exhaust its administrative remedies."

Attorney Clay T. Grover with Rogers, Morris & Grover LLP in Houston is representing the respondents.

Case No. 12-cv-1360

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