On Wednesday, September 16, Susan Curlee appeared at a hearing regarding potential changes to Tennessee’s open records law. The state was considering whether or not to allow local governments to assess fees for compiling information. Ms. Curlee saw it as an opportunity to declare that her 2014 public records request on parents was treated improperly.
The Williamson Herald article that appeared today includes WCS’s response. We’d like to add a few facts.
1) Curlee was a sitting board member who did a public records request to see parent communications with WCS administration officials. She specifically noted that she wanted her request to be kept “highly confidential” under “Attorney Client Priviledge (sic)” contra the law.
Public Records Request
2) WCS attorneys determined that Ms. Curlee has a “legitimate educational interest” in our children and thus can see our emails (including communications about our children, our personal email addresses, and anything else) in an unredacted state. Normally, this information would all be protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law that protects the privacy of students.
3) Typically, when inspecting records, the requester looks at them on a computer screen and identifies which documents he or she wants copies of. District staff make the copies, and the requester pays $0.15 per page for them.
4) Susan Curlee (and her husband) went in to Central Office to look at unredacted parent emails. She did not pay for a single copy, yet perfect electronic copies of these documents, including FERPA-protected information, have appeared unredacted on the internet, including on the Facebook pages of anti-WCS activist Julie West, her organization Parents for Truth in Education, and shock jock Michael DelGiorno, and on an anonymous website whose domain name was created and registered by Patsy Writesman on 9/5/14.
5) Board member Beth Burgos also viewed the emails contained in Ms. Curlee’s public records request in the fall. It took parents many more months to receive copies of what Ms. Curlee received because we did not have board member status.
In addition, given Ms. Curlee’s interest in public records, we should point out:
Susan Curlee has publicly requested people to contact her via avenues other than her WCS account.
“If you would like to voice a concern or reach out to me regarding a confidential issue, please use means other than my wcs.edu email…” – Susan Curlee, 1/6/15
We have requested all school-board-related communications Ms. Curlee has had via any other non-WCS email accounts. Curlee maintains there are no such emails.
“It’s time we became more transparent and not less. Although I was told there was nothing to hide in those records, when people are telling you to drop it, that there’s nothing to hide, usually that means they’re hiding something.” – Susan Curlee, 9/16/15