Rep. Kim Williams had a few questions about the Charter Working Group:
Good Morning Ian,
I am requesting an opinion today from the AG’s office and I am also requesting a formal opinion from the AG’s office regarding the Appointed 24 Member Working Group that was formed to review the current charter law. The group was appointed by the Governor. The House will probably be voting on House Bill 165 (Charter) next Tuesday and it is important to have an opinion as to whether or not this Working Group violated Chapter 100.
The Appointed 24 Member Working Group was formed last year and meetings were not posted, the public was not included, and no minutes were kept of these meetings. According to Chapter 100 – Freedom of Information Act under Definitions and Open Meetings this Appointed Working Group should of posted their meeting schedule, had the publics involvement and recorded minutes.
The House Education Committee just released House Bill 165 (Charter Bill) by a 7 to 6 vote in favor of releasing. I am Vice Chair of the Education Committee and I presented my concerns to the Education Committee this week. I am extremely concerned about the Working Group and the lack of records and most importantly the lack of public input.
Here is a little background. I was on the Red Clay School Board at the time when the Working Group was meeting and we as a board were not informed or updated on the groups progress. There was a representative on the group who was to be keeping the school boards informed. After I was elected to the 19th District, I requested information from the member of this committee (12/21/12 and 1/02/13) who should have been updating the school board members, he did not return my emails and I left one voice message for him as well. I requested from a member of the Governor’s office (1/07/13) to see if she could get in touch with him and she had no luck.
Back in December (12/13/12) I sent an email requesting that I could sit in on an upcoming meeting and for an invitation to be sent to the Red Clay School District. Red Clay is the only district in the state to charter charters. I also requested an invitation by phone to attend a meeting of the Working Group after being elected and again I asked if I could bring a guest with me. This guest was from the Red Clay School Board and I was told I could attend but they did not want me to bring anyone with me to the meeting, it would not be right to open it for one and not open it for all. I know for a fact that the President of the State PTA was allowed to sit at the table during these meetings but was not an appointed member of the Working Group.
First, GO KIM! Second… check out the DOJ’s response:
From: McConnel, Ian R (DOJ)
Sent: Monday, June 10, 2013 3:45 PM
To: Williams, Kimberly (LegHall)
Cc: Peterson, Karen (LegHall); Reardon, Allison E (DOJ); Staib, Jason (DOJ); Rogalsky, Joseph E (DOJ); Mullaney Sr, Tim (DOJ)
Subject: RE: 24 Member Working Group – Charter
Dear Representative Williams:
I write to respond to your request for informal and formal opinions from this office with respect to the applicability of Delaware’s Freedom of Information Act, 29 Del. C. §§ 10001-10006 (“FOIA” or the “Act”), to the Charter School Working Group (the “Working Group”). This office, as a matter of general practice, does not give informal opinions, particularly with respect to FOIA matters, which tend to be fact specific. Nonetheless, in light of the important and pressing nature of your request, we conducted a preliminary review into the issues you raised below.
Based on the information you provided and our review, the Working Group may be a “public body” within the meaning of FOIA. 29 Del. C. § 10002. If that is the case, the Working Group was (and, if still active, remains) subject to the “open meeting” provisions of the Act. See generally 29 Del. C. § 10004. Thus, any prior meetings conducted without adequate public notice or compliance with other open meeting requirements may have been held in violation of the Act. We note however that, as a practical matter, there may be no effective way to remediate any such violations. According to your email below, the Working Group has already made its recommendation to legislators.
Of course, pursuant to 29 Del. C. § 10003, you are able to submit a FOIA request to the appropriate public agencies, officers or officials to obtain any publicly available documents, and in the event you do not receive timely or appropriate responses, you may appeal and bring the matter to our attention by filing a FOIA petition with this Office in accordance with FOIA §§ 10005(b), (e).
With best regards,
I’m so tired of this nonsense. Obviously Ed Reformers and charter advocates need secrecy – looks like their ideas/plans/”results” can’t stand the light of day. Shame they needed to hide. There was a chance to have a serious discussion. But if we had that discussion, Charters wouldn’t have gotten their Happy Birthday 165! Depressing.