The State ex rel. Hills and Dales
Plain Local School District Board of Education.
Submitted December 11, 2019
Krugliak, Wilkins, Griffiths & Dougherty Co., L.P.A.,
Scott M. Zurakowski, Owen J. Rarric, Joseph J. Pasquarella,
and Amanda M. Connelly, for relator.
& Berne, L.L.P., Amanda Martinsek, William D. Edwards,
Manju Gupta, Daniela Paez, Rex A. Littrell, and Rachael
Rodman, for respondent.
1} In this expedited election case, relator, the
village of Hills and Dales, seeks a writ of mandamus to
compel respondent, the Plain Local School District Board of
Education ("the Plain Local school board"), to
forward to the Stark County Board of Elections a petition
proposing the transfer of some of Plain Local School
District's territory to Jackson Local School District. We
dismiss the complaint because the village lacks standing.
2} Ohio residents have long had the right under R.C.
3311.24 to propose the transfer of the territory in which
they reside from one school district to another. Among other
requirements, residents proceeding under R.C. 3311.24 must
submit a petition to their current school board (signed by at
least 75 percent of qualified electors in the territory to be
affected) and receive the approval of the State Board of
Education. See R.C. 3311.24(A)(1)(b) and (A)(4).
This case involves a newly enacted alternative to R.C.
3311.24-R.C. 3311.242-that allows qualified electors of a
township containing territory of two or more school districts
to place a transfer proposal on an election ballot for
approval or disapproval by voters. R.C. 3311.242, unlike R.C.
3311.24, does not require the transfer to be approved by the
State Board of Education.
3} To have a transfer proposal placed on a ballot
under R.C. 3311.242, residents first must submit a petition
(signed by at least 10 percent of qualified electors) to
their current school board. R.C. 3311.242(C). Upon receiving
such a petition, the school board "shall cause the board
of elections [of the county in which the affected territory
is located] to check the sufficiency of signatures on the
petition." Id. If the board of elections
confirms that the signatures are sufficient, it must certify
the petition to the school board. Id. And once that
certification occurs, the school board must promptly do two
things: (1) file the proposal (and a map showing what
territory would be transferred) with the State Board of
Education and (2) certify the proposal to the board of
elections for its placement on the ballot at the next
election that is at least 90 days away. R.C. 3311.242(B).
4} On October 29, 2019, the village's law
director delivered to the Plain Local school board a petition
proposing "that the territory bound by the geographic
limits of Hills and Dales Village be transferred from Plain
LSD to Jackson LSD according to O.R.C. 3311.242 and [that]
the transfer be effective for the beginning of the 2020-2021
school year." The petition seeks placement of the
proposal on the March 17, 2020 primary-election ballot. To be
placed on the March 2020 ballot, the Plain Local school board
must certify the proposal to the board of elections no later
than December 18, 2019. See R.C. 3311.242(B)(2).
5} At a meeting on November 20, the Plain Local
school board adopted a resolution that "tabled" the
petition. The resolution explained that the Plain Local
school board had filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging
the constitutionality, legality, and enforceability of R.C.
3311.242. In its resolution, the Plain Local school board
stated that it would not act on the petition until there is a
final determination of the claims pending in federal court.
6} On December 3, the village filed this original
action seeking a writ of mandamus to compel the Plain Local
school board to submit the petition to the board of elections
for verification of the signatures on the petition. Assuming
that the board of elections would certify the petition, the
village also seeks an order compelling the Plain Local school
board to (1) file the proposal and a map showing the
boundaries of the territory to be transferred with the State
Board of Education and (2) certify the proposal to the board
of elections for placement on the March 2020 ballot.
7} We expedited the case schedule at the
village's request, and the case is fully briefed.