Bill would offer more transparency in school superintendent buyouts

Angie Mason reports in her Cram Session blog that a bill approved by the Senate that focuses on school superintendent buyouts says that if a school board agrees to a buyout with a superintendent, it “must publicly disclose the reason at the next board meeting. The bill also says the contracts must be subject to the Right to Know Law.”

Doesn’t seem groundbreaking, but still, it’s notable when transparency is part of anything in Harrisburg.

 

About Scott Blanchard

Sunday editor at the York (Pa.) Daily Record/Sunday News. Follow me on Twitter and Google+.
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2 Responses to Bill would offer more transparency in school superintendent buyouts

  1. Donald Bateman jr says:

    Great story…cannot waiting until bill passes. I live in Adams county and have problems with our school board and Superintendent regarding his preformance. We just want answers and our parent group has been told we face possible legal actions, by the superintendent, if we continue to voice our concerns in public. Can he place lawsuit against us for voicing our concerns. We just want answers regarding test scores…dropped three years in a row..numerous staffing and activity cuts…etc. No answers…just possible lawsuit for voicing our concerns and questions. Would appreciate any feedback.

    Thanks,
    Donald L. Bateman Jr.
    Littlestown PA.

  2. Donald, the First Amendment protects your right to speak out, so unless someone is physically threatening him or his family, or is engaging in potentially libelous speech, it’s hard to see how someone could be successfully sued for voicing their concerns. Do you have any more specifics about what the superintendent is referring to?

    I’m not an expert on libel law, so if that’s what the superintendent is getting at, you might want to check with a libel law expert to get a good sense of what’s acceptable criticism of a public official and what goes over the line.

    A couple things to bear in mind about the right-to-know law, in case they came into play.

    One is that the law allows an agency to deny a request if someone has made the request repeatedly and it has “placed an unreasonable burden on the agency.” They’re called “disruptive requests” and I believe that part of the law is designed to prevent someone from trying to beat an agency into submission with a barrage of requests. But it’s not difficult to imagine an agency that doesn’t want to release a record trying to claim that a request is “disruptive” — in other words, trying to use that part of the law to its advantage.

    The other is that the law allows the courts to award an agency attorney fees/court costs if it determines that a legal challenge to an agency’s denial was frivolous. I’ve never heard of this happening, but it’s in the law (http://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/media/site515/2009/0127/20090127_104911_pa_righttoknowlaw.pdf).

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