By, Michelle Hazekamp
June 6, 2022
Mona Shores Violates the OMA & 1st Amendment
On May 25, 2022, the Muskegon County 14th Circuit Court with Judge Marietti presiding, ruled in favor of plaintiff, Daniel Olson, to find that Mona Shores School Board Members violated the Open Meeting Act and the 1st Amendment. In addition to paying the attorney fee's and cost acquired by the plaintiff, and injunction was entered against the school board prohibiting them from doing this again.
Local Father Gets "Muted"
In January, 2021, Daniel Olson, a local father, filed a complaint against Mona Shores School Board Members for silencing him during a Zoom board meeting when exposing fraudulent behavior pertaining to one of their board members. Stemming from ongoing parent participation at local school board meetings that began in the summer of 2020 when Mona Shores announced they were introducing a Black Lives Matter Curriculum, Olson started digging into the school board members themselves. What he found was not only alarming, but the board members were anxious to keep it quiet.
Board Member has Criminal History
Daniel Olson discovered that Wesley Wilson, while sitting on the board of Mona Shores School and President of the Grand Valley State Democrats in 2018, had been charged with larceny for stealing money from GVSU. Wesley Wilson was accused of misusing University funds under false pretenses. He pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor larceny, yet remained on the Mona Shores School Board. (Wesley Wilson's term is up for re-election in 2022). You can read more on this story by clicking here.
Olson Takes Action Against the Board
While concerned over the fact that Mona Shores would allow a person to continue serving with a criminal record, and in the process of disclosing this information to the public during a Zoom board meeting, the Mona Shores School Board President, Stan Miller, muted Olson twice in order to prevent him from disclosing the alarming information and hold them accountable for not being transparent. However, Olson decided to take action and not let the board get away with covering this up by filing a lawsuit against the Mona Shores School Board for violating the "Open Meetings Act." This is a common theme we have seen throughout the nation with school boards silencing, over speaking and arguing with parents during public comment. According to the Open Meetings Act, it is a violation to interrupt or silence a public speaker during their allotted speaking time.
Mona Shores = DENIED!
After delays and re-scheduling trial dates, in December 2021, the Judge gave opinions in favor of Olson, leading to the final ruling last month. Below is Olson's description regarding the Judge Marietti's opinion:
1. The Board contended it wasn’t subject to the Open Meetings Act—DENIED, appellate courts ruled several years ago school boards are subject to OMA
2. Board contended that because they offered me the chance to speak in closed session there was no violation or I’m not entitled to damages —DENIED—courts have already ruled such offer is insufficient as they must allow speaker to speak in open session
3. Board contended that Wilson’s *alleged* request in 2020 for closed session (the only one to testify about it was Miller (Wilson himself didn’t recall making any such request and no written evidence of it and Miller never mentioned it when he stopped me)) justifies not allowing me to speak— DENIED, courts and 1979 Attorney General said that is invalid excuse and that public still allowed to speak in open session
4. Regarding my OMA violation against the Board, only remaining issue is whether the matter I wanted to speak about was of a public concern (of course it was) and I just need to present evidence if it at trial.
5. Defendants also wanted to justify their actions based on my political affiliations, views, etc. DENIED—judge agreed with me that is irrelevant for an OMA violation
6. Miller contended insufficient evidence that he intentionally violated the OMA—DENIED as I have a pile of evidence that this wasn’t a good faith “oops” but rather he had an ulterior motive (ie cover up)
Basically, the only thing left for trial is whether Miller intentionally violated the OMA.
Let This Be of Great Encouragement!
Let us be encouraged by this father and continue to stand firm in unity! This is proof we can have victory! And a big thanks to this father who refused to let the school board get away with their nefarious behavior! If you know him, let him know he is greatly appreciated and respected by the Muskegon GOP! Well done sir, well done!