For Immediate Release: February 1, 2016 More Information Contact: Eric Mihelbergel 716-553-1123; firstname.lastname@example.org
Ken-Ton School District Denies Public Access To Documents That May Show Adverse Effects of Programs on Children
During the months of October, November and December 2015, district administrators in the Ken-Ton School District visited several district schools to meet with teachers and hear concerns about what they are experiencing in the classrooms. Reports confirm that these professional educators provided dozens of testimonies explaining how children are being negatively affected by current programming that the district supports. These testimonies were reportedly provided both in written and verbal form, and the documents are currently possessed by district officials.
A FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) request for these documents, dated December 8, 2015, was denied by district officials. The district cited section 87(2)(g) of the New York State Public Officers Law, which states that documents can be exempt from public access if they are deemed ‘intra-agency’ materials. However, parents and taxpayers argue that, if documents contain testimony from professional educators detailing how children are being negatively affected by mandated programming, these documents should NOT be strictly ‘intra-agency’ documents because they contain vital information that directly affects children and the taxpayers.
Eric Mihelbergel, parent of 2 children in the district, explains that, “The bottom line is that the district possesses documents that may explain how our children are being negatively affected, and the district won’t share these documents with parents and taxpayers. I can’t think of any documents that deserve to be seen by the public more than documents showing how the children are being negatively affected.”
Reports from several district employees indicate that some teachers have been bullied and intimidated by administrators over the past year to prevent them from sharing their professional opinions with parents and the public. Eric Mihelbergel says, “When administrators censor the professional opinions of educators then the public does not get the real story. These documents must be released to the public so that the public gets the whole truth, and not just filtered information that administration wants released to support their agenda.”
An appeal of the denial was filed on January 15, 2016, however, that appeal was also denied. The appeal denial was made by the Superintendent of schools, who is the same person that is mandating much of the controversial programming in the documents. The case is now being taken to the Department of State, Committee on Open Government. “It seems to be a conflict of interest to have the same person deny the public access to these documents when that person has something to gain by denying access. The public should hear the truth from the professionals that are actually in the classrooms with our children,” says Mr. Mihelbergel.