From The Washington Times (Washington, D.C.): For Marilyn Flachman, it seemed like a simple request.
In Colorado, open records laws clearly say public employee salaries, which are funded by taxpayers, are available to the public.
Last year, the district was having financial problems, so Ms. Flachman, a former Adams County School District 50 board president, wanted to see the details of most schools’ largest expenditure — staff salaries.
In February 2015, Ms. Flachman filed a records request for the 1,000 or so teachers, administrators and other school employees, and she assumed a spreadsheet would appear in her email in box within days.
What she got was a five-month battle, a request for thousands of dollars and, with the help of an attorney who agreed to work for free, a brick of paper that she struggled to wheel out of her attorney’s office.
“I supported the concept of transparency and making information available to the public,” Ms. Flachman, who worked at the district for decades and served eight years on the school board, told Watchdog.org.
The school district initially said it didn’t have the records, then tried to appease her with a general overview on salary costs and contracts for some administrators and temporary teachers. She knew the records existed because the school board received detailed salary information when she served on it.
She wanted the whole list, preferably in electronic form so she could sort and analyze it. She had spent most of her career at the district as a library media specialist teaching students about data and the internet and felt in 2015 schools should have that basic data.
“They have many electronic data points about student progress but they can’t supply a list of staff salaries?” she questioned.
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