Small business owner sues school districts, claims exclusive rental instrument advertising

Posted at 5:50 PM, Aug 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-10 17:50:04-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A business owner filed a lawsuit Friday against the Coopersville Area and Grandville Public School districts claiming they exclude instrument rental advertising on school property to all but one vendor.

David Didaskalou, owner of West Michigan Band Instruments in Grand Rapids, fought and won a similar lawsuit against Spring Lake Public Schools last year. He tells FOX 17 in June 2016 he received an email from the district stating they were only using Meyer Music as their on-site vendor for families needing rental instruments. By March 2016 he says they settled when Spring Lake Public Schools' officials rewrote policy allowing equal access to any local vendor and providing rental company brochures.

"Obviously it’s my business I want to keep it going strong, but I’m not against fighting for what’s right in my opinion," said Didaskalou.

This case is no different. Citing commercial free speech, it argues that when one vendor is allowed to advertise on school property, then competitors should be given equal opportunity.

Didaskalou says the Grandville Public Schools officials recently emailed him and the Coopersville Area Public Schools mailed him a letter, each stating the districts would be using Meyer Music as their vendor this school year, inviting only Meyer Music to their campuses to advertise at an upcoming back-to-school event.

"Like last year in Spring Lake, these two school districts have told us that we are not allowed to their rental meeting night that they will be having only one vendor present," he said.

"We’re a good store, there’s two other very good stores in town. Let the parents decide where they want to go."

Officials with the Coopersville Area Public Schools Superintendent's office tell FOX 17 Thursday they "did have a bid process" but cannot comment further because they had not been formally served the lawsuit yet.

Grandville Public Schools Superintendent Roger Bearup wrote FOX 17 and did not further clarify:

"Grandville Public Schools has a process aimed at providing our students and parents with the best service, quality, and value. This process is accomplished while still allowing parents the choice of where they get these services."

If the school districts choose to fight him in court, Didaskalou says, "I think there’s a lot better things they can spend tax dollars on, I don’t understand what the problem, what the issue is. I’m not asking them to exclude any other vendors, I’m just asking them to give me equal access to what they’re giving that exclusive vendor."

FOX 17 also reached out to Meyer Music for comment but as of Thursday evening has not heard back.