Tennessee School Boards Association files amicus in Sumner Schools public records appeal

The Tennessee School Boards Association, which collects dues and represents nearly all school districts in the state, has filed an amicus with the Court of Appeals in a public records case against the Sumner County Board of Education.

From left: Citizen Ken Jakes and Sumner Schools attorneys Todd Presnell and Jim Fuqua listen the judge's ruling that the school district violated the Tennessee Public Records Act.

From left: Citizen Ken Jakes and Sumner Schools attorneys Todd Presnell and Jim Fuqua listen the judge’s ruling that the school district violated the Tennessee Public Records Act.

The Sumner County school district hopes to overturn a ruling by a judge that it violated the Tennessee Public Records Act when it refused to let citizen activist Ken Jakes see a copy of its public records policy. The school board argued that Jakes did not properly make the request so they did not have to respond to it. Jakes made the request in writing and sent it by email, as well as called on the telephone.

The school board said the request must be in person, or delivered by U.S. Postal Service.

Judge Dee Gay ruled against the school district in November and ordered it to change its policy to be in compliance with the law. The case has dragged on for more than two years with the appeal, and the school district had spent more than $113,000 as of November last year.

TSBA is not the only entity filing an amicus, according to a Tennessean story by Tena Lee, one of the reporters who has followed the case from the beginning.

The Tennessee Risk Management Trust also asked and was granted by the court permission to file an amicus.

The TSBA said its request to file the amicus that “… the case is one that affects the rights and responsibilities of school systems in their capacity as a local government subject to Tennessee’s open records laws. The issue of interpretation of these laws is statewide in principle and has the potential to affect not only how school systems respond to open records requests but also how local governments respond to open records requests.”

Read The Tennessean’s story here “2 groups to weigh in on Sumner County Schools open records appeal

Read the TSBA’s amicus here: Memorandum of Amicus Curiae, Tennessee School Boards Association in Support of Defendant / Appellant Sumner County Board of Education

Read the Tennessee Risk Management Trust’s amicus here: Tennessee Risk Management Trust brief in Sumner County Board of Education case

Read past coverage of the trial here: What we learned from a citizen’s fight for public records in Sumner County

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