The Curry County District Attorney has asked the Brookings-Harbor School District Superintendent to provide some, but not all, information requested by school board member Bill Ferry.
Ferry has publicly accused Superintendent Paul Prevenas of blatantly disregarding Oregons Public Records Law by refusing to release the information. He filed a public records request with District Attorney Charlie Steak on April 2 to get the information.
Prevenas, however, said he was simply following the school districts own policy and legal advice given to him by the Oregon School Board Association in responding to Ferrys unprecedented request.
Prevenas said he received a list from Ferry in November asking for information on 14-plus items that Ferry said he wanted to have as a school board member. He received another letter from Ferry several months later requesting information on various items, some of which were on the original list
Following Steaks recommendation, Prevenas said he will provide Ferry with the following documents:
A letter from an Oregon Department of Education official regarding lottery funds.
A copy of the districts most recent assessment of South Coast Educational Service District.
A copy of the special education directors job description.
A copy of the Talented and Gifted Services policy covering those students relationship with Southwestern Oregon Community College.
The recent copy of the student body treasurers report.
A copy of the section of the master contract between the district and the Brookings-Harbor Educators Association that deals with overtime and compensatory time.
A copy of a consultant contract with Beverly Fleshman.
A copy of (Prevenas) most recent evaluation.
A copy of each of the most recent evaluations for the school principals.
Steak said Prevenas did not have to disclose information on what he called non-existent items, items in which there were no written documents to disclose. This was the case, Steak said, in regards to information Ferry sought concerning the districts position on any proposed athletic league alignment and a list of grant applications.
Steak also said Prevenas did not have to release documents pertaining to complaints or a lawsuit filed against the district by Liz Cohen. According to Oregon law, the district was not required to release information related to pending litigation.
Unsure of how to respond to Ferrys initial request for information, Prevenas said he discussed it with the board during a special board meeting and sought advice from Max Janokowski, a representative with the Oregon School Board Association (OSBA).
OSBA told me that Bills request was not appropriate for any one individual school board member, Prevenas said.
However, according to the OSBA and the districts policy, if a majority of the school board votes that Prevenas should provide the information, he would do so, Prevenas said.
He said as much in a letter to Ferry several months ago.
I asked Bill to talk to (board chairman) Brian Larsson and see if the board wanted to pick up the issue, he said.
Prevenas said he never received a response from Ferry or Larsson.
Three months later I was contacted by the district attorney and told that Bill had filed a request for information, Prevenas said. It was an unnecessary action by Ferry and only served to complicate an otherwise rather straight-forward matter.
Prevenas said that at any time Ferry could have come to the district office as a citizen and followed an established procedure for requesting public information.
He never followed that procedure, Prevenas said. He went to Charlie Steak and I think the district attorney was misled.
Ferry said Tuesday that Prevenas never told him of such procedure.
If he had told me anywhere along the line that I could fill out one more form to get the information, I would have done that, he said.
Regardless, Ferry said, a school board member shouldnt have to go through the hoops to get public documents.
He added, Ive always felt the documents I requested should be released and the district attorney affirmed that.
However, Steak, in his letter to Prevenas dated April 5, acknowledged that Ferry may have not followed the proper procedure.
The letter stated: After speaking with you I understand that Mr. Ferry may have not fully complied with the school districts public records policy, and in the future he would be required to do so before applying to my office for assistance.
Steak also said the district can charge Ferry for the time spent and copies made to meet the request.
Prevenas said he will bill Ferry $78 for 48 copies and the time spent by him, the business manager and administrative secretary. As a courtesy, Prevenas said, he did not include in the price the time he took to discuss the matter with Steak.