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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Kelli Horst's letter to the editor 10-12-11 about my FOIA requests

Kelli Horst, the president of the Clarkston PTA Council decried my FOIA requests here in this letter to the editor that was published in the 10/12/11 Clarkston News.
Isn't this "special" that the stated President of the Clarkston PTA Council thinks it's appropriate to attack a parent of a CCS student for legally requesting documents through the legally protected FOIA process?  Nothing fails to surprise me.    

I consider this a scare tactic by people close to school administrators to get me to back down with my FOIA requests.  

"Letter to the Editor

Questions about FOIA questions

October 12, 2011 - Dear Editor,

I am very disturbed by facts presented by Ssuperintendent Dr. Rod Rock at the Sept. 26 Clarkston School Board meeting.

Clarkston resident Dawn Schaller submitted nine Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to Clarkston Community Schools since 2010. She received 4,760 pages of materials for six requests fulfilled to date at an estimated cost of more than $1,200 to the district. Although Mrs. Schaller has paid $886.08 of those costs, the district and the taxpayers eat the rest. I don't like the taste of that.

Even more disturbing is the apparent partnership between Mrs. Schaller and Sherman Publications, owner of The Clarkston News. Editor Phil Custodio participated in Mrs. Schaller's review of documents pertaining to her first FOIA request at the administration building.

Dr. Rock presented evidence Sherman Publications paid for one of Mrs. Schaller's FOIA requests. I spoke with Dr. Tommy Thomason, a journalism professor at Texas Christian University and expert on community journalism. He has never heard of a community newspaper paying for a private citizen's FOIA request. It seems hidden agendas also make strange bedfellows.

While Mrs. Schaller certainly has the right to examine public information, the length and breadth of this pursuit without any evidence of wrong-doing is simply a waste of the taxpayers' money and the school district's time. She's fishing, plain and simple, and the hometown newspaper has swallowed her story hook, line and sinker. The Clarkston News has frequently published Mrs. Schaller's vague allegations and opinions opposing district actions without evidence to support her claims. A quick search of The Clarkston News website shows Mrs. Schaller has been quoted or used as a source 24 times in the past 18 months in stories and editorials relating to the school district.

Jim Sherman owes his readers and the citizens of Clarkston answers. Why are you paying for the FOIA requests of a private citizen and supporting her unsubstantiated allegations? Did you reimburse Mrs. Schaller or anyone else for her other FOIA requests, which were paid with cash and personal checks?

What is the relationship between Dawn Schaller and The Clarkston News? Will you be transparent with your practices, as you are demanding of the school district?

It's time for Dawn Schaller and Sherman Publications to be up front about their motives and actions. If there are findings that support alleged misconduct or misappropriation of funds, then publish it.

If nothing concrete has come from 18 months, nine FOIA requests and nearly 5,000 pages of documents, then it's time to stop chasing conspiracy theories and let our school administrators return to the business of educating our students.

Kelli Horst, president
Clarkston PTA Council"

1 comment:

  1. Kelli,

    I will go ahead and publish what I have found... Unfortunately for CCS Administration, they are not "conspiracy theories", they are fact.

    The district's most recent FOIA response shows they are refusing to provide a whole lot of documents... Why, you might ask? In my opinion, it is to keep from revealing the truth. It's kind of the equivalent of 'taking the fifth'. I believe that they are failing to provide certain documents because 'they will tend to incriminate' the district...

    Dr. Rock advised that the district spent $1,700 on attorney fees to get the attorneys to tell the district which documents the district could tell me they didn't have to give me.

    Unfortunately, the district shorted me far more than the official list of documents that the district claimed they didn't have to give me.

    I will come out with that list shortly. It will give the people of the Clarkston area reason to question far more of what is going on in the CCS district than just the $20 million bond millage vote in May.