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Monday, August 05, 2013

Ind. Gov't. - "Analysis: Public records key in Tony Bennett grade-change scandal"

Tom LoBianco of the AP has an analysis piece today on Indiana's public records law. Some quotes:

Indiana’s former state superintendent Tony Bennett hid his calculations when coming up with the school-grading formula last year, working backward to make the equation fit a predetermined answer: an “A’’ for Republican donor Christel DeHaan’s charter school. His staff was quietly asked to figure out the rest.

The only reason the grade-changing scandal was unveiled was because it was detailed in emails he never deleted from his computer. * * *

In Indiana, the state protects emails as public records. Jim Corridan, state archivist and director of the Indiana Commission on Public Records, points out that substantive emails — including any dealing with policy — must be saved for three years.

For the most part, emails can be legally “destroyed” after that time frame, and not every trivial note — like if Bennett had wrote his wife to say he’d be late for dinner — must be preserved.

But actually obtaining copies of crucial emails is a tough task, as state officials often rely on the “work product” exception to argue the missives should not be released. * * *

The Lafayette Journal and Courier filed a complaint last year that the board violated the state’s open meetings law by holding an executive session at an undisclosed location in Chicago O’Hare International Airport. But the state’s public access counselor, also appointed by Daniels, determined that simply knowing the meeting would happen at the out-of-state location was open enough.

When the Indianapolis Star went looking for records of the deliberations over Daniels’ hiring, Purdue wrote back it had none, and even it did, the public couldn’t see them.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 5, 2013 09:03 AM
Posted to Indiana Government