Letters to the Editor
Readers respond to school-information stories
October 19, 2011 - 'Disappointed' by schools
I had high hopes that a new Clarkston superintendent would end the secrecy and arrogance that seemed to pervade the previous administration and certain board of education members.
However, it was very disappointing to read that Dr. Rod Rock believes it is "wasteful" for a district resident and taxpayer to use the law to obtain information that many school districts make public. ("FOIAs Under Fire," Oct. 12).
This is the same superintendent who recently leveraged taxpayer resources to criticize charter schools. Apparently, it's not "wasteful" when you spend the people's money on issues you support.
It is equally disaappointing that several board members have joined the "move on, there's nothing to see here" bandwagon. Diversionary tactics -- such as insinuating that the citizen in question is in cahoots with the local paper -- only reinforce the notion that there is something to hide.
Until certain Clarkston Schools leaders learn what transparency means, I don't care if Santa Claus files FOIA requests and pays for them with money from the Easter Bunny, if that's what it takes to get answers.
Sunlight best disinfectant
There have been statements made that a member of the community is wasting the school district's time and resources by making FOIA requests for information which some on the Board and in the administration feel is a fishing expedition.
Let's be clear on a very important point: community oversight of our elected and appointed officials is not just a community right, it is a community responsibility and it can only be accomplished with adequate information in a format that lends itself to review and analysis.
In the absence of full, voluntary disclosure on the part of officials, the law provides citizens with a tool to use to obtain the needed information – the Freedom of Information Act.
This tool provides the community with access to sufficient information to be able to make an informed judgment regarding the performance of those officials who hold the public trust when complete information is not readily available to the community for whatever reason.
To those on the board and in the administration who are opposed to these requests, my suggestion is to re-examine their position regarding the voluntary release of information and to encourage members of the community to become involved at a more granular level of detail in the areas of greatest concern such as finance and policy.
If no problems are found, this assistance will still enable the district to stretch its scarce resources by engaging these additional creative minds in process improvement.
On the other hand, if there are problems they can be identified early and corrected quickly because in the words of US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis "Sunlight is the best disinfectant".
Public has right to know
I am in shock at the tone and comments coming from the Clarkston School Superindent and some School Board members ("FOIAs under fire,"Oct. 12).
These are the people we assume are establishing the policies for educating our students and I presume that includes civics and law. Instead of my usual long winded complaints, I offer the following explanation from the Michigan Legislature as contained in a very good document on the Michigan Freedom of Information and Open Meetings Acts which is available for free and online from www.Michigan.gov. This is what it says:
Availability of Public Records:
Any person may ask to inspect, copy or receive a copy of a public record. There are no qualifications such as residency or age.
As soon as practical, but not more than five business days after receiving a request, the public body must respond to a request for a public record. Under unusual circumstances, the time can be extended by 10 days.
The public body or agency has a responsibility to provide reasonable facilities so that persons making a request may examine and take notes from public records. The facilities must be available during the normal business hours of the public body. A public body may make reasonable rules necessary to protect its public records and to prevent excessive and unreasonable interference with the discharge of its functions.
My opinion is that it is public information, created, compiled and maintained with public money. Therefore, in accordance with the law, the public has the right to any information for any reason, even if it is just because they are curious and want to know how their tax money is being spent. So tell the School Board to stop their whining and get back to educating the public, whether student or parent. It is not the School Board's information, it is ours.
FOIAs waste of money
I concur with Kelli Horst's views that Dawn Schaller is wasting our tax payer dollars on ridiculous FOIA requests. I believe this is part of a bigger effort to tear apart the fabric of public education. Now is the time to rally and support our public schools before this uniquely American success story is undermined by for-profit corporations.
Outraged by newspaper
As a parent of children that attend Clarkston Community Schools, I am outraged that your newspaper is supporting the crazy antics of a delusional resident of Clarkston.
Dr. Rod Rock has done an amazing job of being the superintendent of Clarkston Schools. He has opened lines of communication that were not open before. He has also gone above and beyond in keeping Clarkston residents informed about all of the changes that could be occurring in education funding and policies.
If there is no evidence of wrongdoing, please let him get back to doing what he does best – caring for the education of our kids.
Get behind Dr. Rock
I, too, have had many frustrations over Mrs. Schaller's relentless campaign to expose some type of fraud or misspending on the part of the Clarkston School District ("FOIA questions focus on school spending," Oct. 12). I think after 18 months and 4,760 pages of information, she should stop wasting our time and money.
I am focused on moving forward with our new superintendent and excited about the direction in which he is moving our district. I have noted the School Board members who support Mrs. Schaller and will not vote for them. I want them to move into the future and get behind Dr. Rock. He has new and exciting ideas that I want to explore for the sake of my two children currently in the Clarkson school system. The recent economic situation within our state calls for new and inventive practices, not conspiracy theories.
Of great concern to me is why the Clarkston News supported Mrs. Shaller's efforts by supplying her with money. Isn't this the time when we should be working together to create solutions and a new paradigm rather than steeping ourselves in past practices?