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Judge dismisses open meeting lawsuit against school district

By ThisIsReno
Published: Last Updated on

Republican candidate for governor Dr. Fred Simon, who accused Washoe County School District and Board of Trustees President Angela Taylor of violating Nevada’s open meeting law, on Tuesday voluntarily dropped his lawsuit against the district on Feb. 16. 

Today, Washoe County Second Judicial District Judge Egan Walker followed Simon’s dismissal with an order dropping the lawsuit with prejudice.

Both sides have to bear their own attorney costs.

Simon sued Taylor and WCSD on Nov. 16 alleging that Taylor and the district violated open meeting law at a Sept. 28 board workshop when Taylor cut off his comment and recessed the meeting. 

Taylor’s actions followed Simon’s personal attacks against district personnel and subsequent shouting and clapping by members of the audience as she stopped his comment. 

Simon was allowed to finish his comment after a brief recess. 

Simon eventually dropped Taylor as a named defendant in the lawsuit. The district however, filed an anti-SLAPP motion against Simon and moved to dismiss Simon’s suit. District legal counsel alleged Simon was using his lawsuit to intimidate the Board of Trustees and hamper their ability to conduct board business. 

Some legal experts said the district’s use of anti-SLAPP law was unusual. Anti-SLAPP, short for strategic lawsuit against public participation, cases are often filed against governments and others in positions of authority who may be trying to silence opposition. In this instance district counsel said Simon intended to intimidate the school board and announced his plans during an Aug. 5 campaign event.

“He is suing WCSD because the district violated Dr. Simon’s right to speak on an issue of public concern at an open meeting as he is clearly permitted to do under the provisions of the Open Meeting Law,” Simon’s attorney argued before Simon dropped the case.

The school district said Simon had no case to begin with.

“Plaintiff’s probability of prevailing does not exist, and he cannot meet the minimal merit criteria,” school attorney’s claimed.

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