I am writing to make you aware of a public record’s request made by Heather Miller, Staff Writer, the Independent. She has indicated her request has not been acknowledged by your staff. This is unacceptable since there is legislation that addresses public records requests in Louisiana.
Ms. Miller has informed me of the following: The Independent has called and emailed both Rene Greer and John White several times over the past 48 hours to no avail. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time the department has demonstrated to The Independent a complete disregard for transparency and the public records statutes that all government agencies in Louisiana must abide by.
Consequently, I am making a formal request that you honor Ms. Miller’s request. In fact, I am formally requesting the document outlining the US Department of Education’s response to the [NCLB] Waiver and any deficiencies that were identified in the proposal. As a member of BESE District 3, I believe I am entitled to have my information request acknowledged and this information provided to me as soon as possible. I also believe Ms. Miller’s request should be fulfilled, and at the very least, an explanation offered as to why her request has not yet been addressed.
Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Lottie P. Beebe, BESE District 3
“It is disheartening to learn there is a lack of respect for the public records legislation which should be honored for those individuals making requests,” Beebe tells The Ind. “You are not the first to communicate the Louisiana Department of Education’s blatant disregard for public records requests. Mr. White and his staff need to be accountable to the public especially when the law dictates compliance.”
The Ind has also been in contact with District 7 BESE member Holly Boffy, the Lafayette area rep, as well as BESE President Penny Dastugue. Boffy tells The Ind that she “fully expects” DOE will comply with our records request. Dastugue says in an email Friday morning that she has forwarded the paper’s concerns to BESE Executive Director Catherine Pozniak.
The state Attorney General’s Office has not responded to The Ind yet on whether the office will assist in our efforts to obtain this public document. The AG’s office cannot accept a formal complaint against LDOE because if the newspaper decides to file a civil lawsuit against the state education department, which we may or may not do, the AG’s office must represent LDOE.
The Independent will continue to report on this matter until LDOE complies with state law. Check back with our website as the story develops.
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