LANSDALE-Two pending state laws could give school districts like northern Pennsylvania a new way to meet their right to know demands.
District officials recently heard the latest information on the two state Senate bills. One can force the district to charge for a particular request, and the other can force state authorities to declare the requester hostile.
“We absolutely want to be as transparent as possible. We just don’t want to get caught up in the demands that are really nagging above all else, ”said Board of Education chairperson Tina Stall.
Under current state knowledge rights law, all knowledge requests must be submitted to district finance director Steve Skrocki via a review form. Available on the district website Or directly to the district office. According to Skrocki, the amount and complexity of these requirements has increased dramatically in recent months, especially with sales office staff and Skrocki spending more time meeting these requirements. I did.
“At this time, as you know, we are not allowed to charge right-to-know applicants except for copies,” Skrocki said.
“Frankly, most, if not all, of our material It is a digital formatIf it exists in digital form, it cannot be billed to the requester. I think it’s been at least a year and a half since I asked someone for a copy. “
Senate Bill 312State Senator Bobmensh, co-authored by R-24 Ward, Skrocki is based in Florida, but as a company that has said it makes frequent requests to North Pen, the district has these commercial applicants. You can choose.
“They asked for our full list of suppliers, contact information for our suppliers, any purchase orders issued by the school district, supplier information, amounts, and so on. “, did he declare.
“These are marketing companies, they use it for marketing purposes only and make quarterly inquiries to the North Pen School District. Currently, we cannot charge these fees, ”Skrocki said.
Second invoice, Senate Bill 552Does not have to establish a so-called “problematic applicant” where the school district can apply for the designation of the state public records office and meet this requirement.
“What makes a claimant a ‘bad claimant’? It will be in the eyes of the open record office, ultimately, their decision, but there are certain parameters, ”he said.
These parameters include the number of requests made in a given year, the nature of the request, the time it takes to respond to them, whether the request was made or whether the requester made comments during a request. public meeting. If approved by the state, the district can deny an application from that person for one year.
“There is one person in the school district who has submitted 35 applications so far this year, which is quite a few,” Skrocki said.
“In addition, the individual made some comments when the right to know request was withdrawn. This can put them in the category of bad seekers. I need work this weekend. Mentionned. It’s a travesty of the system and I think it’s probably nuanced. “
june 2020 The school board has expressed support for the state legislature and passed a resolution calling on the state legislature to pass a bill to reform the funding of state charter schools, and Skrocki staff Similar resolution Voice card support for both bills.
Stoll said he supports doing it, especially to save Skrocki’s time and effort for other purposes.
“The email may contain sensitive information that needs to be changed, so Skrocki has to handle all requests. It is not a task that could be given to someone. She says. Mentionned.
“We always want to be as transparent as possible. We just don’t want to spend Skrocki’s precious time on requests that don’t really exist for a particular purpose, ”Stoll said. I am.
Director Christian Fusco asked if Scrocchi thought state regulation “would be a very high standard to set,” and said Scrocchi believed he would.
“It’s for people making requests that really don’t serve their official purpose, and it’s included in the language of the resolution,” Skrocki said.
He added that a recent request required staff to review an email of around 19,000 pages, which if done just once wouldn’t necessarily be considered boring.
“If an individual makes 40 such requests in a year, that could be a different story,” he said.
“I think it’s very rare to even apply to an open registrar and find someone annoyed, and secondly, I think the threshold will be very, very high. Mr. Scrocchi said.
Director Al Roesch pointed out another feature of the bill. “They are only banned for one year.
“They could come back, and if they catch up with the same practices, they would have to spend resources to ban them again,” Roesch said.
The North Pen School Board will then meet on June 17 at 7 p.m. For more information, please visit: www.NPenn.org..