By Robert Haugh
This is an open letter to the Santa Clara Unified School District Board of Trustees.
TO: Jim Canova, Albert Gonzalez, Jodi Muirhead, Noelani Pearl Hunt, Andy Ratermann, Mark Richardson and Michele Ryan
I’ve been trying to get some basic information from your SCUSD staff for over four months now. The request was simple: who’s using a school computer during school hours to post comments to Santa Clara News Online? We hope you and your administration will take action because you care about transparency — and following the letter and spirit of the law.
I first requested this info on November 20, 2017. I was told by SCUSD Public Information Officer Jennifer Dericco to send an “official” California Public Records Act (CPRA) Request. So I did on December 5, 2017.
What’s the CPRA?
The law is similar to the Freedom of Information Act, except that “the people have the right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business” is enshrined in Article 1 of the California Constitution due to California Proposition 59 (the Sunshine Amendment, 2004). [Source: Wikipedia]
Under the CPRA, local agencies, like SCUSD are encouraged as a best practice to:
- Respond to a public record request within 10 days
- Provide electronic records in its native format
- Provide a reason for denying a request
On January 16, 2018, about 40 days after my initial request, Andrew C. Lucia, SCUSD Assistant Superintendent, School Support and District Development referred me to the Santa Clara County Office of Education (COE), saying that SCUSD doesn’t have the info. Really?
So I contacted the COE, and guess what? On February 6, 2018, they said that SCUSD does have the info. Peter Daniels, Chief Public Affairs Officer of the COE responded in writing that SCUSD has staff “specifically tasked with managing the network addresses and domains we have assigned to them.” That same day, I made a second CPRA request to Lucia.
On February 22, 2018, Lucia responded that there was no way to tell who the user was. Really?
We’ve talked to some people at SCUSD and in other school districts who know something about the computer systems. The response that your district staff doesn’t know is not credible. Is it possible that your district is covering up information? If so, are you doing it for political purposes?
We hope you, the Board of Trustees, cares about transparency and following the letter and spirit of the CPRA. If so, we hope you’ll ask your administration to comply with this request.