The school district’s policy regarding open records requests does not comply with state law.
“It’s illegal,” said Dave Trabert, Kansas Policy Institute. Trabert said he was very surprised at USD 231’s policy regarding written requests, paper checks and hard copy pickup for public information which is subject to the Kansas Open Records Act.
“I’ve never ran across it before,” Trabert said. Each year, the KPI surveys several dozen Kansas districts and compares things such as job positions, salaries and overtime.
All contact was thru Deb Starling, district clerk and freedom of information officer.
“That’s typical because school districts, cities have someone responsible for open records request,” he said.
When contacted by The Gardner News to see if the district had plans to make the policy comply with state law, Starling said via e mail, “Thank you very much for emailing us, about the district’s KORA request policy. We appreciate your interest and will definitely take the time to consider your recommendation in the future when we review board policy. However, at this time, we will have to follow the guidelines of what we currently have in policy.”
The district requires a specific form be scanned and attached to e mail, and if the KORA request is granted, the district then requires the response be picked up at the Board of Education office and paid for with a hard copy check, as opposed to responding via e mail or taking electronic payments.
District policy is set by the school board; KORA is a state law. Typically district policy is reviewed in December and June, Starling said.
Pam Stranathan, superintendent, Shawn Carlisle, board president, and the district’s legal counsel Lathrop and Gage did not respond.
Trabert said he believed the district should change their policy “They have not said anything about it, but they certainly should be changing that policy because it does not comply with state law.”
According to the attorney general and the court’s interpretation, a KORA request can be an e mail request for information. The response can be either mailed or e mailed. The e mail must provide info on who you are and what you want.