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The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

From Florida, A Charter School's Woes and E-Mail Records...

Florida Today has a fascinating tale of a charter school's woes, and e-mail sunshine violations? It's a heck of a read....

The Florida Sunshine Law prohibits members of public boards from discussing business outside public meetings -- including through e-mail.

But a review of electronic mail conversations among former leaders of Explorer Elementary and Middle School reveal a handful of possible violations by two board members in the month leading up to the charter's collapse.

"They can argue that they're just exchanging information, but the fact of the matter is it could have been a discussion that citizens would have wanted to take part in or be informed about," said Adria Harper, director of the First Amendment Foundation in Tallahassee.

FLORIDA TODAY requested e-mail records of Explorer's former principal, Ruben Rosario, in hopes of uncovering information about the problems that led to the district takeover last month.

Six weeks' worth turned up a series of exchanges between the school's former board president, Greg Gaddis, and former board secretary Patty Satter-
white. Most of the e-mails discussed administrative items, including preparation and distribution of meeting minutes.

But other e-mails sent separately from Gaddis and Satterwhite to the rest of the board directly addressed and solicited responses to significant issues, including the schools' finances and employment policies, that were scheduled for future board action.

In one e-mail, Gaddis suggested approving a revised audit "outside of our official meeting." In another, Satterwhite referred to two votes the board took through e-mail. Both e-mails appear to violate the state's open-government law...

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