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.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Newpoint Schools and the Release of Public Records: Differing Opinions Slow Down the Release of Public Records
Multiple public records requests have been made now regarding the investigation of Newpoint schools. I received one several weeks back, and I have compiled, literally, a phone-book thick stack of records that were requested and which I have produced. As of today, the finishing touches on the redaction process is being accomplished by School Board staff. All student names are being redacted, as well as the names of all confidential, inside informants and information that would compromise the identities of these confidential informants pursuant to 119.071(2)(f).
My records, my part of the request, could feasibly be ready for dissemination by this Friday or early next week.
But there has been a snag. There is disagreement between lawyers for the district and the Board's attorney regarding what it is that is exempt from public records release, and what is not exempt. If a record is part of an active criminal investigation by a law enforcement agency, such records are exempt from disclosure by any such agency. There is unanimous agreement on this.
But what about records developed prior to the initiation of an investigation?
What about records that were developed by the school district prior to the current investigation? AG Opinion 91-75 seems to indicate that these records are not exempt, and should be disclosed.
What about records that are in the possession of a Board Member but that refer to last school year,
not current school year allegations of misconduct?
I have information that refers to last school year and the allegations surrounding Newpoint, additional allegations continue to come in to me, including some new ones just yesterday--alleging more onerous misconduct.
As I predicted in my very first blog post on this issue, these allegations will lead to the end of careers--as several staff at Newpoint have recently quit, including their local HS director just last Friday.
I have every confidence that the truth will come out on all of these allegations surrounding 2013-2014 school year issues at Newpoint. There are multiple entities now looking at these allegations.
But despite this, I will not be a cog in the wheel, I will not disclose anything that is not public knowledge already and I will not disclose anything that will compromise a current school year investigation. I will cooperate fully and do what is right.
I WILL COMPLY with State Law on Public records--and once I receive definitive legal guidance on what I must release and what I must not release, I will follow that guidance and release my phone-book thick raft of public records documents as requested as they pertain to ALLEGATIONS surrounding Newpoint and test administration anomolies and grade tampering from 2013-2014.