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An appeals court says the firing of a second-grade teacher in French Lick is invalid, because the board meeting didn’t start till 2:30 am.

The Springs Valley School Board fired Risha Warren in 2012 after she escorted a student to the principal’s office, where secretaries said she demanded to see an administrator or “I’m going to kill her.”

The board meeting was scheduled for the conclusion of an executive session with Warren. But the closed-door hearing and board deliberations, expected to take two hours, dragged on for nine hours.

An Indiana Court of Appeals says even though several members of the public stuck around till the bitter end, the middle-of-the-night meeting violates the Open Door Law’s ban on “unreasonable” variation from posted meeting times.

The court notes the state’s Public Access Handbook, though not legally binding, specifically cites a meeting starting four hours after the posted time as an example of an unreasonable delay. Warren says she was in a different part of the building and didn’t realize the meeting had started until she saw cars leaving the parking lot.

She says she would have challenged two board members’ participation in the vote if she’d been present. The board voted 4-0 to fire Warren, with three absent.

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