School Board Discuss Potential Right-To-Know Request Policy

By Alex Malm

The district’s right to know requests policy and the choice whether or not they should revise it was in discussion at the Nov. 29 School Board meeting.
“At face value, we appreciate the sentiment that we want to make it easy for Londonderry citizens to gain access to information from the school district,” Interim Superintendent, Dan Black, said in a memo to the school board.
During the previous meeting, Black said they would be willing to share information to the public when they can informally without any requests being filled, and since then they received at least one request that way.
“I am happy to share that after the last school board meeting, we did have one citizen reach out for information on a recent hire, and we were able to email that information back within a couple of hours,” said Black. “It is an example of what we were promoting at the last school board meeting around Right to Know Requests: If there is information you are seeking on the Londonderry School District, and we are able to share it, we will. We are not trying to create unnecessary barriers for our citizens.”
With that said, Black explained they don’t just get requests from people in Londonderry and instead sometimes from out of state.
“For whatever reason they are asking for information from our school district,” said Black.
Black pointed to two requests from entities outside of Londonderry looking for information. He said under their current policies they would need to come to the District Office in order to complete the request.
“This approach protects the Londonderry School District from these requests in that we do not want some far off entity having free reign to ask for any information they want from us, and we would have to spend many people hours complying and sharing this information,” said Black.
He said if they had a policy where they just shared the information electronically, they would “be swamped with these requests and would certainly need to hire more staff to comply. As a school system and community, we need to avoid that reality.”
“For that reason, I would not recommend we change our current policy because we must administer our Right to Know requests the same with citizens of Londonderry and faraway entities and cannot treat them differently. That is the whole point of having a policy so that we act consistently,” said Black.
School Board member, Bob Slater, said they have done a good job with transparency under the new Administration, however, he added he thinks if they went with information being provided electronically it would be their final step in terms of transparency.
“I think this is the finishing touch,” said Slater.
School Board Chair, Amy Finamore, said she was concerned after hearing about a neighboring district that had to hire someone to handle their right to know requests due to the number they received.
Slater pushed for a vote to allow 91A information requests to be fulfilled through electronic means when applicable.
“I would like to try it,” said Slater.
School Board Vice Chair, Sara Loughlin, requested that they table a vote until their next meeting.
“I’m not feeling prepared to vote on this tonight,” said Loughlin.
Slater agreed to wait on taking a vote.

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