AI Generators: Appropriate and Responsible Use of Technology

AI Generators: Appropriate and Responsible Use of Technology

Educators are just beginning to scratch the surface on the utility of incorporating artificial intelligence (“AI”) in their work lives. AI is here to stay but educators must exercise caution in its use in order to satisfy legal and professional obligations.

 As stated by Scott Pelley on the April 16, 2023, edition of 60 Minutes, “We may look on our time as the moment civilization was transformed as it was by fire, agriculture, and electricity.” While a seemingly hyperbolic statement, those who have explored using AI will attest to the exciting possibilities and potential efficiencies.

From a legal standpoint, among other things, privacy concerns must be kept in mind. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) mandates the protection of personally identifiable information that is maintained in education records and includes direct identifiers, such as a student’s name or identification number, indirect identifiers, such as a student’s date of birth, or other information which can be used to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity. When working with AI, educators must not upload personally identifiable information.

From a professional responsibility standpoint, the unmonitored use of AI could jeopardize an educator’s license. The Licensure Code of Professional Conduct for Ohio Educators requires the “appropriate and responsible use of technology.” The ninth principle mandates as follows: “Educators shall always use technology, electronic communications, and social media in a responsible and professional manner and appropriately safeguard the unauthorized use or access to electronic devices and data entrusted to them.”

One should keep this ninth principle in mind when utilizing AI. People are learning a difficult lesson that AI “hallucinates.” In other words, it makes things up. High-profile instances have occurred wherein attorneys have blindly copied AI generated text into their briefs, only to find that AI hallucinated the fictitious case law it produced. An efficient shortcut has resulted in damaged reputations and sanctions.
Individuals with a license, such as educators, must monitor the AI output that goes into their work product. Failing to do so could result in legal liability and could potentially amount to conduct unbecoming an educator.

Feel free to contact Ennis Britton if you have any questions about the legalities and professional obligations in utilizing AI. Be sure to catch our presentation AI Generators: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly at the COSSBA Annual Conference in Dallas, Texas on February 24, 2024 and BASA Ohio on March 20, 2024.

*Image was AI-generated using RF123.

























































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Distinguishing Discussions from Meetings and Informal Consensus from Formal Decisions

Distinguishing Discussions from Meetings and Informal Consensus from Formal Decisions

On January 16, 2024, the Eleventh District Court of Appeals decided the appeal of a frequent litigant and once again weighed in on the Ohio Open Meetings Act. In State of Ohio ex rel. Ames v. Portage Cty. Bd. of Commrs., 2024-Ohio-146, the court affirmed the granting of summary judgment in favor of the Portage County Board of Commissioners (“Board”) and dismissed the case. In the case, Ames alleged that the Board committed numerous violations of R.C. 121.22, the Ohio Open Meetings Act (“OMA”).

Among other things, the court made it clear that not every conversation constitutes a meeting subject to the OMA. In his Complaint, Ames alleged that a majority of the Board, two members, discussed the employment of the county’s director of budget and finance prior to the meeting. The two commissioners admitted to having an impromptu, brief discussion prior to the meeting.

The court highlighted that the OMA defined “meeting” as “any prearranged discussion of the public business of the public body by a majority of its members.” R.C. 121.22(B)(2). In affirming the granting of the motion for summary judgment, the court stressed that the meeting was not “prearranged.” The court held that the OMA does not prohibit impromptu discussions between a majority of board members.

Additionally, the court provided guidance on permitted procedures for executive session. Ames alleged that the Board violated the OMA by deciding to discharge the director of budget and finance during executive session. To support his allegation, Ames relied upon a commissioner’s statement, immediately after executive session, that the Board was dismissing the director. Ames concluded that the statement showed that the Board reached an impermissible collective decision during executive session.

Rejecting this contention and affirming the granting of the motion for summary judgment, the court of appeals noted that the OMA does not preclude the Board from reaching an informal consensus during executive session. So long as formal action is taken in an open meeting of the public body, no violation of the OMA occurs.

The case underscores two points. First, caution must be exercised to comply with the OMA. Activist litigants may put your processes to the test. Secondly, if caution is exercised and the procedures are followed, public entities can successfully defend against such claims.

Career Tech Corner: Governor DeWine and the Ohio House Prioritize Career Technical Centers in Ohio Budget

Career Tech Corner: Governor DeWine and the Ohio House Prioritize Career Technical Centers in Ohio Budget

In the proposed budget awaiting Senate approval for the upcoming fiscal year, the Ohio House followed Governor Mike DeWine’s lead and made career technical centers a priority. H.B. 33 which passed the Ohio House on April 26, 2023, includes a $100 million appropriation to support career technical programs. H.B. 33 also includes a one-time appropriation of $200 million for construction projects that establish or expand career-technical education programs.

DeWine has said that he believes career technical centers are essential to preparing Ohioans for the jobs of the future. “The jobs of tomorrow are going to require more skills and training,” DeWine said. “Career technical centers are the best way to make sure that Ohioans have the skills they need to get good-paying jobs.” Both the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Education Association support the increased funding.

The budget proposal is now being considered by the Ohio Senate. It is expected to be debated and voted on in the coming weeks.





















































































































































































































































































































































































































































Lack of Fire Extinguisher in Science Classroom Could Be a Physical Defect Affecting Immunity

Lack of Fire Extinguisher in Science Classroom Could Be a Physical Defect Affecting Immunity

In a 4-3 decision rendered on December 28, 2022, the Supreme Court of Ohio ruled that the absence of a fire extinguisher in a science classroom “could be a physical defect such that an exception to immunity exists under R.C. 2744.02(B)(4).” 

 The case of Doe v. Greenville City Schools arose from an accident within a science class.  The plaintiffs alleged that the school district “negligently caused their injuries when they suffered severe burns in December 2019 after a bottle of isopropyl alcohol caught fire and exploded in a science class.” The complaint further alleged that the school district “failed to provide proper safety equipment, ‘especially, but not limited to, a fire extinguisher inside the classroom,’ failed to ensure that there were proper safety features and protocols in place, [and] failed to properly supervise and protect them…”

 The Supreme Court held that the allegations should survive a motion to dismiss.  Discussing the standard, the Supreme Court explained, “R.C. 2744.02(B)(4) requires that two separate elements be met—the injuries at issue must be caused both (1) by a political subdivision employee’s negligence and (2) by a physical defect within or on the grounds of buildings that are used in connection with the performance of a governmental function.

Noting that the term “physical defect” is not statutorily defined, the Supreme Court acknowledged a split among Ohio courts of appeals as to whether the lack of a safety feature could constitute a “physical defect.”  The Supreme Court agreed with the courts that have held that the lack of safety equipment or other safety features could amount to a physical defect. Thus, “the absence of a fire extinguisher or other safety equipment within a science classroom could be a physical defect such that an exception to immunity could exist under R.C. 2744.02(B)(4).”

 As a result of this decision, another exception to the immunity statute has been recognized by the Supreme Court.   Please contact one of our attorneys is you would like to further discuss this case and its implications.

A link to the decision can be found here.






















































































































































































































































































































































































Circuit Courts of Appeals Split on Transgender Bathroom Issue

On December 30, 2022, a federal circuit court of appeals broke from the decisions from other circuits and held that separating the use of male and female bathrooms on the basis of biological sex does not violate the United States Constitution or Title IX.  In Adams v. School Board of St. Johns County, Florida, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (covering Alabama, Florida, and Georgia) upheld what the court described as “the unremarkable — and nearly universal — practice of separating school bathrooms based on biological sex.”  The ruling upheld a school district’s decision to deny a request from a transgender male to access the boys’ restroom.

 The Adams decision directly conflicts with guidance from the Office of Civil Rights of the United States Department of Education, as well as decisions from the Fourth Circuit (covering Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia) and the Seventh Circuit (covering Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin).  The decision also conflicts with a decision from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, which has jurisdiction over portions of Ohio.  The guidance and those decisions have concluded that transgender students may access the bathrooms of their choice.

Based on the split among the circuits, the Supreme Court of the United States may decide to consider the case and settle the issue definitively.  In the interim, clients are encouraged to contact the attorneys at Ennis Britton for consultation.

A copy of the decision can be found here