The East Liverpool Board of Education's decision to appeal a court ruling ordering the district to pay $170 plus costs after a Bow Wow concert was canceled is troubling.
On its face, the decision makes no sense. Why is the school district spending perhaps thousands of dollars in legal fees to appeal an order to pay only $170? It's even more confounding when you consider that the judge's ruling determined that the school district and the concert's promoter were equally liable for the cost, so the school's share would be half or $85 plus costs.
The whole mess began when promoter Terrance Smitherman scheduled a concert by rap artist Bow Wow at Patterson Fieldhouse in November of 2011. Just days before the concert, Schools Superintendent James Herring canceled the concert saying "There was no insurance or bond presented to the board by the promoter."
At the time of the cancellation, Smitherman said he would refund the money paid for the tickets the next week. It has now been a year since the cancellation and no money has been refunded.
In August, an East Liverpool man filed a claim against Superintendent Herring and Smitherman of T&T Promotions, seeking $3,000 plus interest since Nov. 6, 2011 for seven tickets to the canceled concert.
In October, East Liverpool Municipal Court Judge Melissa Byers Emmerling found both the school district and the promoter liable for $170 in un-refunded ticket sales to the local purchaser.
Earlier in November, the school board voted against appealing Byers Emmerling's ruling. When the board later reversed course and voted to appeal the decision, member Richard Wolf wisely said, "I see no point in us spending more money on an attorney. We lost the case in small claims court. If anyone is due money, and the court awarded it to them, it will undoubtedly be less than the attorney's fees."
And on Wednesday, the board proceeded with its appeal of the decision to the 7th District Court of Appeals. Filing fees for the appeal cost $94. A bill from the district's attorneys shows that $2,106 has already been spent on this case. The school board is liable for only $85 from this particular case. If the board were to be held liable for even more unrefunded ticket fee cases, its share of that would only be half of $6,550 or $3,275. The liability faced by the board hardly seems to justify the potential appeal's costs, unless there is something the board isn't sharing with the public.
Board members indicated they had correspondence from their attorneys advising them to appeal. Why not share the correspondence with district residents? If there is a legitimate reason for this appeal, this board needs to come clean and explain its action. After all, the taxpayers are ultimately paying the bill, and they deserve to know that money is not being spent foolishly.