Unlike private enterprises, public entities have a responsibility to conduct their business in a transparent manner.
The public has a right to know what transpires at city halls, school districts, fire districts and even county, state and federal agencies.
There are rules and laws that have evolved over the years to ensure that the public is kept abreast of what is happening at the entities that are funded by taxpayer money, and which exist to serve the public.
The Kansas Freedom of Information Act and the Kansas Open Records Act are the cornerstones of the sunshine laws that govern the interaction between such entities and the public in the state.
Gardner-Edgerton school district is no exception.
Recently, USD 231 went as far as hiring a high dollar attorney in an attempt to stonewall an open record request made by the Kansas Policy Institute. Their pretext was that the district could not provide the requested information in electronic format.
It was only after the KPI threatened a lawsuit and sought the opinion of the Johnson County District Attorney that the school district complied with the law.
The conduct of the district in this matter suggested a reluctance to share information that should be publicly available.
The information requested was about salaries and compensation of district employees.
A reasonable observer would wonder why the district would go to such lengths to make it harder for the public to access such information, including hiring a lawyer – at great taxpayer expense.
Those who run public entities in our communities should know that they are accountable to the taxpayer, and they are duty bound to follow the laws, not circumvent them, or hide behind them or use them as barriers to legitimate queries.