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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines


BEDFORD - JANUARY 7, 2023 - After almost three years of North Lawrence Community Schools lawsuit against Jason Johnson, Jerry Ford, Deanna Ford, Gearld (Jerry) Hill, and James Evans is nearing a judgement.

The case being presided by Monroe County Judge Holly M. Harvey did not rule on the lawsuit at this time taking more than three years.

On August 5, 2022, Jerry and Deana Ford filed for a status conference by their attorney Glen Koch.

On October 24, 2022, Judge Harvey issued an order for dispositive motion:

  • NLCS shall file a dispositive motion no later than February 15, 2023

  • Jerry and Deanna Ford will file a response or cross motion no later than March 15, 2023

  • NLCS shall file a reply and response or cross motion no later than April 15, 2023

A dispositive motion is disposing all or part of the claims in favor of the moving party without the trial court proceedings.

The lawsuit by the North Lawrence Community School Corporation was filed by the Pitman Law Group on behalf of the school corporation was filed on January 31, 2020, seeking a declaratory judgment.

This came after the Indiana Public Access Counselor ruled in favor of the defendants seeking public access to several documents regarding the consolidation of the NLCS.

School Attorney James G. Pittman filed for a Judicial Review of the Indiana Public Access Counselor ruling that the NLCS violated the Open Door Law.

Jason Johnson filed the complaint on November 19, 2019, alleging that the school corporation violated the Open Door Law.

On December 11, 2019, the North Lawrence School Corporation filed a response to the complaint. On January 7, 2020, Indiana Public Access Counselor issued an advisory opinion that the school corporation did in fact violate the law.

Pittman claims that the advisory opinion is not supported by law, and not supported by evidence.

Pittman went on to explain that the largest issue is whether the Visionary Committee is a governing body. Pittman says the committee was not directly appointed by board or board's presiding officer Trent Todd. The committee was actually selected by Dr. Ty Mungle the superintendent of the school corporation.

Three of the North Lawrence Community School board members were added to the Visionary Committee. Dr. Ty Mungle provided updates to the public during the school board meetings. A total of more than 30 individuals from the public attended closed door meetings at the Stonegate Arts & Education Center in Bedford.

In addition, on January 31, 2020 the school corporation filed a declaratory judgment against Jason Johnson, Jerry Ford, Deanna Ford, Gearld (Jerry) Hill, and James Evans.

The defendants Jason Johnson, Jerry Ford, Deanna Ford, Gearld ( Jerry) Hill and James Evans sought the request of public records.

In the complaint filed by Pittman, North Lawrence Community Schools hired Dr Ty Mungle in February 2019. Dr. Ty Mungle started reviewing the school corporation and discovered the following.

  • NLCS experienced a reduction in student enrollment during the past 10 years

  • 10 elementary schools had less than 300 students

  • 6 out of the 10 elementary schools were receiving a grade of D or F in 2019

  • In July 2019, after being hired as the permanent superintendent Dr. Ty Mungle hired a consulting firm on reviewing data, gathering input from experts and community stakeholders and setting a vision for the future.

  • Based on other school districts and on the advice of Esolve Solutions Dr. Mungle invited 30 community volunteers to participate in a series of meetings and consider options for the NLCS

  • The purpose of the volunteer group was for NLCS to review data, gather input from experts, and community stakeholders and set a vision for the future.

In the complaint, Pittman requested a declaratory judgement that the Visionary Committee was not a public agency or governing body and not subject to Open Door Law. The school corporation entered into an agreement with the committee members that their names would not be released to the public.

Lawrence County Zephyr will continue to monitor developments in the proceedings.

North Lawrence Community School Board voted for a one-month contract verses a one-year contract with the Pittman Law Firm on Thursday.



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