To our friends, clients and colleagues in local and regional government, local and higher education, and the nonprofit sector, welcome to our latest Monday Message from the Public Law Group at McDonald Hopkins. In today’s email, assembled by attorneys Amanda Gordon, Dave Gunning and Kevin Butler, you’ll find insights into areas of law we’re watching on your behalf.
In today’s edition:
- In our monthly segment, ‘5 Questions With’ Dr. Andrew Hill, Wadsworth City Schools Superintendent
- A reminder from Cleveland State’s emeritus board chair: CSU 2.0 is coming
- Litigation watch: Ohio township seeks ARPA recipient status; Sixth Circuit affirms nuisance demolition despite notice issues
- Upcoming MH events and webinars
In our monthly segment, ‘5 Questions With’ Dr. Andrew Hill, Wadsworth City Schools Superintendent
In today’s edition of the Monday Message, we’re excited to continue our series, “5 Questions With” – a monthly segment in which we ask local, regional and statewide leaders to pass along their wisdom on items of current and lasting interest, all in a brief, easy-to-read format.
For our latest installment we’ve sought out the words of Dr. Andrew Hill, Superintendent of Wadsworth City Schools, who managed to lead a district of 4,000 students through the 2020-21 school year without having to conduct more than two weeks of remote learning. Dr. Hill says he cast a wide net for input. “We had an advisory committee of approximately 125 people who also assisted,” he writes. “Half of those were employees and the other half were interested members of our community.” As for looking ahead? School districts must be flexible: “Defining when the ‘post-pandemic’ happens will be one of our biggest challenges. As districts try and plan for a return to normalcy, not all constituents will be ready to do so.”
Read more wisdom from Dr. Hill here.
A reminder from Cleveland State’s emeritus board chair: CSU 2.0 is coming
Our partner Dave Gunning, whose distinguished term as the chairman of Cleveland State University’s board of trustees has now come to an end, reminds us today that the university has adopted a strategic plan to help it emerge stronger from the pandemic.
Dubbed CSU 2.0, the blueprint builds on a statement of strategic priorities adopted in 2018 that featured themes guiding the school’s future development. Gunning says CSU aims to distinguish itself as a leading public urban research university; differentiate on student success and engaged learning; build on CSU being an anchor and beacon institution for Northeast Ohio; and create financial strength and campus community. These four overall concepts were the building blocks of CSU 2.0, he says, but the plan details more than 20 ambitious priorities including:
- Strengthening CSU’s faculty
- Investing in research
- Realigning CSU’s colleges
- Building world-class programs
- Enhancing student support services
- Investing in pre-enrollment programming
- Expanding residential opportunities
- Increasing financial aid
- Addressing disparities in student outcomes
- Reviewing and updating curricula
- Emphasizing workforce development
- Supporting research related to regional needs
- Leading a state-sponsored effort to promote the health care and IT industries
- Growing enrollment to 20,000 by 2025
- Increasing public-private partnerships
- Building financial strength and campus community
- Reducing administrative expenses
- Restructuring athletic programs
- Reducing academic expenditures
- Engaging in a capital campaign
Gunning says these priorities were identified by President Harlan Sands, senior administration, faculty, staff and students in an eight-month effort. Read more on the plan here. Meanwhile, those looking for strategic direction on issues facing both public and private colleges and universities can call upon Dave and his years of higher education planning and advisory experience, all augmented by the firm’s broader practice areas.
Litigation watch: Ohio township seeks ARPA recipient status; Sixth Circuit affirms nuisance demolition despite notice issues
We spotted two cases of note this week in the federal courts. In the first, Olmsted Township’s government, representing about 16,000 constituents, filed suit against the federal government to force a decision that would qualify the township as a non-entitlement government unit for the purposes of receiving a share of the $130 billion in state and local government relief under the American Rescue Plan Act – a status that has thus far been denied to most Ohio townships. In Olmsted Township v. Yellin, filed in the Northern District of Ohio, the township argues that because it performs municipal functions it qualifies for a share of funding earmarked for cities under the act despite a lack of guidance from the U.S. Department of Treasury on the similarities between the two types of local government. If successful, the suit would have far-reaching implications for Ohio townships and would likely result in a reapportionment of Ohio’s share of ARPA monies available to local governments.
The Sixth Circuit held last week that the 14th Amendment’s due process clause is not violated when a city demolishes private property even if the city’s certified-mail notices of the imminent demolition go unclaimed, so long as the property owner has actual knowledge of the city’s condemnation of the property. In Keene Group, Inc. v. City of Cincinnati, the court upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a property owner which had attempted to rely on U.S. Supreme Court precedent to argue that where certified mail notices are returned, a city must take further steps to notify a property owner of a potential taking such as a nuisance demolition. Here, the owner did not receive the city’s certified mail notices and was not aware of the imminent demolition of the structure but did know of the efforts underway to abate the structural nuisance conditions. “Condemnation proceedings had begun, and Plaintiff knew it,” the appellate panel wrote. “Accordingly, the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s due process claim was appropriate.” Score one for the building commissioners out there.
Upcoming MH events and webinars
A series of upcoming online McDonald Hopkins events targeted to those across a broad array of industries may appeal to you.
On Wednesday, June 9 at noon, we continue our Public Law in Practice series of free webinars exploring topics of interest to the readers of the Monday Message, some offering continuing education credit. In our second installment, our partners Amanda Gordon and Mike Wise will headline a panel of attorneys and officials discussing Ohio’s new tool to fight erosion affordably – a tool that may soon be expanded from the Lake Erie shoreline to all inland waterways as well. Learn how it works and stay ahead of the conversation by registering here. Application for 1.0 hour of Ohio CLE credit is pending.
Last Wednesday, May 19, in the first of our Public Law in Practice series, we tackled the topic of employer vaccination plans and protocols in the government, education and nonprofit sphere. If you missed it, the replay will be available here.
Feel free to contact any member of the McDonald Hopkins Public Law team if you have questions or need assistance on any of the matters we’ve covered above or with your legal needs in general.
Teresa Metcalf Beasley
Chair, Public Law