SAU 55 has the distinction of being well known to the New Hampshire Supreme Court. David Taylor, a Right to Know advocate, pursued a Right to Know case against SAU 55 on his own and right up to the Supreme Court over the SAU’s demand for a thumb drive in order to turn over electronic documents. The court ruled that SAU 55 does comply with the Right to Know law in demanding a thumb drive as the sole means of transmitting electronic documents.
Your SAU went to the state’s Supreme Court simply because they did not want to forward one short email to Mr. Taylor, and instead insisted on charging him $7.49 for a thumb drive and requiring him to commute from his home in Durham to the Plaistow office to collect it. Your money is no object at SAU 55. For legal fees we have a bottomless ATM. Neither is the public’s convenience at the forefront of the SAU’s administration. (Please don’t think elected officials get treated any differently. I have a collection of thumb drives.)
My Supreme Court case (Green v. SAU 55 et al.) was frequently cited in the justices’ decision, but it was no help to Mr. Taylor.
Your elected representatives have the opportunity to correct this repugnant state of affairs at least in Timberlane. As chairman of Timberlane’s Policy Committee, I have introduced a policy on responding to Right to Know requests which requires the requested information to be posted on our public website, but the policy is being filibustered by the administration and no policies at all are moving out of Policy Committee. In fact, the administration has stonewalled policy meetings throughout the summer and even one that was supposed to occur tonight by not providing a quorum of administrators. Why are administrators on school board standing committees? Why do administrators hold the majority votes on all school board standing committees? Why are administrators setting policy when you elect representatives for that function? Ah, kind readers, this is Timberlane – the land where your elected officials are clutching a toy steering wheel while the superintendent pushes their baby carriage.
David Taylor, along with David Saad and Harriet Cady, are being celebrated for their work with Right to Know NH at the Nackey Loeb First Amendment Awards on October 5th. These three individuals work tirelessly to ensure the public’s access to governmental information. Unfortunately there is still so much work to be done to make the law work for citizens and not public bodies that wish to make public information as expensive and difficult to obtain as possible – especially when elected official are complicit in the practice.
You can read about my proposed Right to Know policy here : http://wp.me/p2w33j-4tL
Mr. Taylor’s Supreme Court decision: https://www.courts.state.nh.us/supreme/opinions/2017/2017057taylor.pdf