Presiding in the court today was Judge David Anderson, (the same judge who heard my Right to Know case at the lower court level).
Representing SAU 55 were James O’Shaughnessy and Demetrio Aspiras III from Drummond Woodsum. Representing himself was David K Taylor.
Sitting beside Mr. Aspiras was Geoffrey Dowd and Jason Cipriano.
What follows is a recollection of some of the proceedings and is not a full representation. A CD of proceedings is usually available for purchase from the court.
SAU Business Administrator, George Stokinger, was questioned by Mr. Taylor concerning the cost per page of a photocopy at the SAU office. Mr. Stokinger seemed to agree that depending on the machine used the cost was between 2 to 5 cents a page. Mr. Taylor pointed out that the SAU’s Right to Know policy charges 50 cents per page. (Yes, it was referred to as a policy and not a procedure during the court discussion.)
Then Mr. Taylor questioned Mr. Stokinger about the cost of sending an email. Mr. Stokinger noted that the SAU’s “robust communication lines” had a cost. Mr. Taylor asked about the reason for requiring a thumb drive in original packaging to receive electronic records in response to a Right to Know request. Mr. Stokinger said it was for the safety of the network. Mr. Taylor then asked if there were any safety issues with sending emails or posting documents on the SAU’s website.
Mr. O’Shaughnessy asked Mr. Stokinger if he himself dealt with Right to Know requests to which the business administrator replied, no – unless they involved financial matters.
Then Catherine Belcher was called to the stand. Mr. Taylor asked after his Right to Know request of June 23 asking for an email sent to Jason Cipriano and Dr. Metzler. She explained how she went about retrieving this email to satisfy his request. Later Mr. Taylor asked her, “Do you treat every person who makes a Right to Know request the same?” Ms. Belcher replied affirmatively.
Mr. Taylor probed her working day, how she makes and retrieves photocopies, if she posts documents to the web as part of her job and if she uses email.
Mr. O’Shaughnessy noted that the SAU’s Right to Know policy was to ensure consistency to all requests, something Ms. Belcher had also stressed in her testimony, and to protect the network from viruses.
Mr. Taylor argued that posting information requested through Right to Know on the SAU’s website would also be consistent to all requestors and also be safe from viruses, as well as imposing no costs/fees on the public.
During the proceedings Judge Anderson referenced the Green v. SAU 55 decision on electronic records. He also made special note of the SAU’s RTK policy the requires requestors to collect their documentation at the SAU office.
Mr. O’Shaughnessy in his closing remarks said that the minutes concerning the superintendent’s raise had been unsealed by the SAU board at the August 29 meeting. He said since being unsealed the minutes had been redacted to remove one sentence the superintendent thought was demeaning to a “subordinate.” The attorney also said that the public had not been deprived of knowledge of what happened in the May 12th meeting by the minutes having been sealed.
The judge gave both parties until Sept 21 to file briefs on the case. The judge instructed Mr. Taylor to specifically address this issue of consistency and virus concern. The hearing took one hour.