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Second Formal Complaint Filed Against WRV School Corporation

Last updated on Sunday, July 8, 2012

(BLOOMFIELD) - A second formal complaint alleging violation of the Indiana Open Door Law by the White River Valley Board of School Trustees has been filed with the State Public Access Counselor.

Nick Schneider, of the Greene County Daily World reports, White River Valley School Superintendent Layton Wall was notified of the new complaint in an email July 2 from Public Access Counselor Joseph B. Hoage.

Mark Buckley, DDS, representing the Save Our Schools (SOS) organization in Worthington, filed the complaint.

Buckley said, like the first complaint, the alleged violation has to do with the Open Door Law pursuant to Indiana Code in properly designating what part of the law is being claimed when an executive session was called prior to the June 26 public school board meeting.

"The code cited (in the public notice) for exemption to the Open Door Law did not adequately pertain to the appropriate Indiana Code," Buckley stated in the formal complaint.

In his notification to Wall, Public Access Counselor Hoage stated that an advisory opinion on the complaint can be expected no later than Aug. 1. The school corporation has until July 25 to respond to Hoage's office pertaining to the complaint.

A similar complaint was filed June 15 -- alleging notification violations for the executive session for the May 24 school board meeting.

The Public Access Counselor has until July 16 to issue an advisory opinion on that complaint. The school is required to issue a formal response by July 9.

"We feel that the executive sessions of the school board of the White River Valley School Corporation have run afoul of the Indiana Open Door Law and we have filed the formal complaint with the state in order to get their opinion on the matter. The process will play out over the next few weeks as timelines are now in effect," Buckley stated.

The WRV School Corporation, in a June 20 letter from Wall, also responded to the June 14 Access to Public Records request made by Buckley on behalf of the SOS group.

The SOS group made nine separate requests for records -- including a variety of school records, receipts and email correspondence dating back to Jan. 1, 2009, in some cases.
The school corporation, in its response, requested that SOS amend most of its requests to be more specific about the desired records.

The corporation has advised that some of the requested records are exempted from disclosure by state statute and those will not be released.

SOS reviewed its records requests -- based on the school's response -- and re-submitted its request to include 28 separate, more specific requests.

In commenting on the reason for the record's request, Buckley stated, "The SOS group has tried over the past two years to keep things civil and at a local level. Unfortunately, we feel there has not been full disclosure regarding the (elementary) school closures as well as a few other items. The State of Indiana has provided these avenues of redress and we are now focused to pursue our cause in this legal realm. Like (Ronald) Reagan said, we have to 'trust but verify'. That is what we are doing."

Buckley added, "Superintendent Wall and the WRV School Board have ask us to amend our requests for records citing, 'reasonable particularity'. Our previous request for records cast a broad net over several topics. In complying with Mr. Wall's and the school board's request for specificity, the number of record requests has increased and is expected to increase each and every time a new records request is submitted."

In his response, Wall stated, "Please be assured that WRV will provide the records in compliance with the law once you provide more specific information about the documents you are seeking. To the extent the documents you have requested are disclosable, please be advised that such records will be made available to you within a reasonable period of time."

The school corporation also plans to charge the SOS organization a per page fee for copying the requested records, according to Wall.

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