The recent public records request made of all 67 school districts by a Polk County man, Joel E Chandler, has revealed several problems with the Florida open records law.
One large problem, of course, is how Florida Law seems to contradict Federal Law (HIPAA) with respect to the release of certain personal information about health plan participants--particularly in districts like Escambia County that self -insure. This issue will likely be settled in court and the outcome could be precedent setting. This one aspect, in and of itself is newsworthy--- however, the other major problem that this particular public records request has revealed is the vulnerability of information on minor dependents who are not employees of a State Agency.
The privacy of information about minor dependents of State Agency employees needs to be exempted from public records requests, in my opinion. Anyone off the street should not be able to walk into a school district and request the addresses, telephone numbers, ages, and names of the dependent children of employees. This is potentially dangerous for many reasons, and this obvious problem needs to be corrected.
I am extremely happy to know that Senator Paula Dockery of Florida Senate District 15 is tackling this problem head-on, and has drafted a bill to address this issue. I'm told that Senator Dockery will be submitting this bill for consideration during the upcoming legislative session. Sen. Dockery's office forwarded the draft, and I have posted it at the following address.
I cannot imagine any lawmaker opposing this bill, and I certainly hope that it will sail through the house and senate to become law. I intend to email our local elected delegation to urge their support for this bill as well.
I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.