Friday, May 19, 2006

Prying out info at the schoolhouse


Three school districts in Brazoria County didn't fare well public relations-wise during an experiment by The Houston Press to determine how compliant your public servants are with the state's public information law.

The weekly newspaper sent a reporter to various districts seeking information that would seem relatively easy to retrieve.

Usually, the writer was met with questions like, "Who are you" and "Why do you want this?" -- which are not covered by the law, as it's designed for the public to receive information, not to dispense it to nosy bureacrats.

The Alvin Independent School District charged a fee for "labor," one of eight districts to do so, and the Sweeny ISD "handed over what looks like every single electrical bill from the last two years and charged $33.60..."

Meanwhile, over in the teeny tiny Damon school district out way West o' the Brazos, the superintendent acted all squirrely when an out-of-towner came knocking:

"Some folks really don't take kindly to strangers coming around asking questions.

Robert Dwight, superintendent of Damon, hovered, huffed and said he'd have the district's lawyer look over the request. (It was fulfilled five days later.)"



The Press surveyed 63 school districts. The only other local district mentioned was Angleton, but only because the reporter got lost driving around the county seat.
[The Houston Press]

2 comments:

JD Allen said...

A newspaper doing investigative reporting? Asking questions about and of our local knob-polishers? How droll. And novel.

Valerie said...

FYI: If you go to the story on the Press's website (http://www.houstonpress.com/Issues/2006-05-18/news/feature.html) and click where it says "Click here to view the results of our requests" you can see how other local districts, including Angleton and Brazosport, responded.