Debbie Hickman
Special to The Gardner News
Public records were again the subject of a lengthy discussion at the Jan. 13 Gardner board of education meeting. Although an exact number of requests made but not paid for under the Kansas Open Records Act was not provided, Monday night’s debate was at least the third such discussion in the last few months.
The new public record policy was on the agenda but did not appear online until immediately prior to the meeting. The last policy changes were made in Spring 2013 with no prior discussion or public input.
Mark Grannell, board president, suggested Joseph Hatley, attorney, be directed to again rewrite the district’s public records policy indicating whether the district require prepayment, whether patrons could be denied information if they failed to pay, and who should be charged.
Gilhaus told the board that 95 percent of the district’s requests came from three entities and that all the others the district would try to accommodate.
During discussion Gilhaus said he would determine who was charged under KORA and who was not.
“It’s called discretion,” Gilhaus said. “Someone who makes repetitive requests, you charge. All the others you accommodate.”
The Kansas Open Records Act provides that all taxpayer-owned records are open, with a few exceptions. The district, as custodian of the records is required to have a public information officer to handle KORA requests and allows that a reasonable fee be charged.
After discussion, revisions were made to Hatley’s revisions and he was instructed to have them at the next board meeting.
There was no discussion of public input or a public hearing on the policy change.
A call to the district’s administrative office asking the exact number of requests, and the number of requests that have gone unpaid, was not answered by press time.