Q&A: Teacher’s contract


From the Perry County News (Tell City):

Q: The interim superintendent for Cannelton City Schools during a school board meeting recommended the school board approve his decision to cancel a teacher’s contract.

Do references to a “written preliminary decision” in the open meeting make it a public document I can demand under the Open Records Law?

A: Reference to a document doesn’t make the document a disclosable public record. In your situation, the question is why was the teacher fired.

If this was a reduction in workforce, the school district would have the discretion to make the record from the teacher’s personnel file available or keep it confidential.

If this was a disciplinary action, you have a right to inspect and copy any records in the teacher’s personnel file that outline the disciplinary action taken and identify the factual basis for that action.

This “written preliminary decision” sounds like it would fall under the scope of that language.

So pin the board down on whether this was a disciplinary action. If you get the right answer, make the records request.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.