Following a letter from a CFOIC volunteer attorney, the Jefferson County School District reversed an earlier decision to deny a parent’s request for the names of teachers at his daughter’s high school who collectively called in sick one day last September.
Public Records Laws
Littleton Schools Superintendent Scott Murphy cited a federal student privacy law as a reason he could not answer reporters’ questions about what school officials knew about threats made by student Karl Pierson before the shooting at Arapahoe High School last December. But FERPA does not apply to adult students who are deceased, according to multiple sources which say that a student’s privacy rights lapse upon his or her death.
Reporter Teresa Benns has endured verbal attacks and threats of physical violence while documenting and commenting on the workings and failings of government in Saguache County and the small town of Center. She perseveres because it’s her duty, she said, accepting the CFOIC’s Jean Otto Friend of Freedom Award.
The CFOIC questions why the public had to wait so long to see the Aurora theater shooting response report and why certain already well-publicized names and details have been X’d out.
A 2013 report illustrated the confusing and expensive landscape of “research and retrieval” fees charged to CORA requestors by various state, county and municipal government entities. One year later, Colorado Ethics Watch and CFOIC have revisited those same government entities to see if things have improved.
To help parents, teachers, students and taxpayers better understand how to use the Colorado Open Records Act and the state’s Open Meetings Law, the CFOIC and Chalkbeat Colorado teamed up to present a lively and informative panel discussion: “Transparency 101: How to exercise your rights to information and open meetings in your school district.”
A reporter for the Independence Institute, a libertarian think tank, asked for a court order that compels the state Division of Insurance to justify its refusal to release emails discussing the one-year renewal of health insurance policies not in compliance with the Affordable Care Act.
A consortium of broadcast media organizations argued that an outside review of Aurora’s emergency response to the July 2012 theater shooting should be released to the public.
Colorado’s Sunshine Law defines a meeting as “any kind of gathering, convened to discuss public business, in person, by telephone, electronically, or by (any) other means of communication.” This includes emailing, texting, tweeting, instant messaging, Facebook messaging, Snapchatting and forms of communication that haven’t been invented yet.
A month after a new statewide cap on public records fees went into effect, many governments and agencies in Colorado have adjusted their records policies to comply with the revised statute. But several have yet to post policies that conform to the provisions of HB 14-1193, even though the bill was signed by the governor in early May.