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.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Official Response to Joel E. Chandler Public Records Request

The Escambia County School District has officially responded to the huge public records request made of our district. A Polk County Man, Joel E Chandler, is requesting The public records regarding the health insurance policy of the Escambia County School District and the name, addresses, gender, age, title, and telephone number of all employees and dependents covered by the policy. I have issues with this request which I have discussed at length in previous entries to this blog. The main issue I have, aside from the potential HIPAA violation (s) that would result from release of this information, is that Joel E Chandler wants the name and addresses of dependents, which will include my three children. What will he do with this information? Who is this Joel Chandler?

I've been forwarded a court document I'm told is attributible to Mr. Chandler, which I have posted:

I'm not trying to demonize this individual, but I believe this issue raises valid points that need to be addressed by our legislators in Tallahassee. Should anyone off the street be able to waltz into a local school district and request detailed information on minor dependents? What about conflicting State vs Federal law--The informal AGO opinion did not address applicability of HIPAA to self insuring districts like Escambia.

The information on our dependent children needs to be private and off limits to public records requests, in my opinion.

Many districts are complying with this request, no questions asked. See the following articles from Gainseville and Alachua:

Our attorney has wisely pointed out that there may be potential Federal laws which could prevent Escambia County from providing this information. The district's response, crafted by Donna Sessions Waters, is here:

Big city papers from around the state are abuzz with this story. Pensacola media?---silent on this story.


sub3marathonman said...

The Lakeland Ledger is also silent on the information about Joel Chandler's arrest for solicitation for prostitution. Maybe that's because Joel used the same attorney The Ledger uses on a regular basis?

Also, it should be noted that Joel Chandler cannot legally work on any public school campus in Florida because of the Jessica Lunsford Act. It was the legislature's intent to prevent such people as Joel Chandler from interacting with children at the schools. Yet somebody thinks the legislature did intend for him to get the names, addresses, birthdays, and phone numbers of thousands of children? So now he can't interact with them at a public school, he can call them at home. Also, with that information it is possible to generate those children's Florida Drivers License numbers, if somebody was interested in doing that.

I also am hoping that somebody will check into my belief that the children who attend public school have had their rights under FERPA violated with the release of their information. FERPA requires a valid reason for the request and release of information. I don't think "fun," or to "cause trouble," as Joel has said were reasons he made the request, qualifies, but who knows, maybe a judge might.

Jeff Bergosh said...


The coverage the ledger has given to Chandler thus far seems to make him out like the "hero" and the local district there the "villian."

I do not understand that. I'm watching with interest as this plays out. The Escambia County School district has responded to his request and we are awaiting his response and deposit check.

In the meantime, I've been digging a little deeper on this subject and what I've been told is that the whole records request was initiated with a vindictive motive because of some issues Joel Chandler's brother had with the Polk District.

What ever the reason, I believe this incident has exposed a hole in the public records law that will be fixed by our legislators in Tallahassee, wth the leadership of Senator Dockery.