Right to Know Policy May Be Revised by School Board

By Alex Malm

At the previous School Board meeting, Superintendent, Dan Black, spoke about potentially revising their policy on right to know requests.
Black said while he understands wanting to get information to the public quickly through electronic means, including email, he was worried about generic requests from outside entities. Currently, their policy is if a request is made, the information needs to be picked up at the District Office.
Ahead of their Dec. 13, School Board meeting, Black said he met with Town Manager, Mike Malaguti, to learn what they do with requests.
Malaguti said it is somewhat different than the schools because many of the requests the town receives are for things like accident reports, or land use documents, which don’t have as much sensitive information to be reviewed before sending out.
Black stated after meeting with Malaguti, he still thinks they need to keep their policy in place.
“The dynamics have not changed,” Black said in a memo. “What the school district needs for protection in our policy is that we do not have a requirement to “transmit” the documents once they are compiled for the Right to Know requests electronically. If we can avoid that requirement, we would be able to keep the frivolous Right to Know requests that come from outside the Londonderry community at bay.”
He told the School Board they would be able to provide the information from Right to Know requests if they provide a flash drive.
“We can easily upload all of the paperwork that might be generated from a Right to Know request in that manner, and we have done it in the past,” said Black. “In theory, we can do this with Right to Know requests that come from outside of Londonderry, assuming the person that asks for them shows up in person. That action is what protects us from the frivolous nature of some of the Right to Know requests that come our way.”
School Board member, Bob Slater, argued that anyone can request a 91A and when that happens the work still needs to be done. He added that whether someone shows up and picks up the information or not is another story.
He also noted that he looked at four other school districts, including Manchester, which allows for the information to be sent by email. He said they also allow in their policy for information to be put on a thumb drive.
“Pretty much every district has the option with the thumb drive,” said Slater.
Slater also noted he doesn’t want to take up their staff time while they have to review it with people who request the information saying that it sometimes takes hours.
He said he ultimately wants to be able to get the information out as fast as possible.
“It’s all these opportunities to show the community we have nothing to hide,” said Slater.
He stated that if they don’t have it electronically then they don’t have to provide it that way.
The School Board voted 4-1 in favor of having a new policy drafted with Finamore voting against it.

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