Public Records Requests - Citizens find answers to questions from asking for it, officially!
When does it make sense to investigate the inner workings of those who make claim to have authority over your children? I am refering to any superintendent, and/or their consultants and employees. Any citizen may investigate the background and contract of any employee of a school district. Why do this? Because it helps to know with whom you may be dealing with. For example, if a superintendent hires a consultant to go through notification information, wouldn't it make sense to find out the background of this person and what this person makes? As the CHESCA PAC, we are finding ways to find this information through the Ohio Public Records laws (ORC 149.43). Even now, the law is about ready to change through some recent legislation (HB 9, analysis submitted) and the PAC is determining what changes, if any, will affect the citizen's right to know information, deemed to be public record.
With regard to any citizen filing a public record, first, one must know what to ask for. Second, one must know from which appropriate office to ask. And third, one must know what steps need to be taken if the records, requested, do not get delivered. Sometimes it is best to have public officials request the information, on your behalf. Officials carry more weight. However, with public records that are "public", there is an obligation. One must follow the process through to be sure to receive the information being requested. As a primer, I have gathered these links from a series the Canton Repository did three years back. Take a look at some of these articles and view the sample Public Record Request and response to the right. The series below was a collaborative effort between 43 newspapers, two radio stations, The Associated Press, the University of Dayton, the Ohio university, all totaling over 90 people.
- A quick guide to public records law
- Local records more accessible than state average
- Records really do matter
- Lack of access to public records leads to cynicism, apathy
- Ohio Schools get bad marks for public records
- Police don't always comply with open-records law
- Some records are just a click away
- Not all heed law on public records
- Records Problems nationwide
- How a school district responds to a request for public information
In addition to the links, please read what one woman in Texas has accomplished in holding her community to account with her Keep Eanes Informed website.
Here's an example of a Public Records Request (PRR) by State Representative Diana Fessler with regard to a local school district employee, Darlene Drage: PDF file
Here are some other documents to review:
- Lawriter - ORC - 149.43 Availability of public records for inspection and copying
- Sample Public Records Request
- ODOE Return Letter concerning Public Records Request - July 19, 2007.pdf
- Public records have a long history in Ohio
- HB 9 Bill Analysis