Update on the afternoon of 5.20.19: A email response from Dr. Elworthy and my reply —
I am in receipt of your records request regarding any audio or video recording of the 5.13.19 Whitewater Unified School District board meeting, including a recording of only part of the full session. The City of Whitewater was noticed about our meeting, but no recording was made Therefore, an audio or video recording does not exist.
I know open government is important to you. The written minutes will be approved at the May 28th meeting. If you have any questions or concerns on specific agenda items, I would be happy to discuss them with you.
Mark Elworthy, Ed. D
Dear Dr. Elworthy,
Thank you for your quick response.
It’s disappointing, of course, to hear that there was no recording of the meeting, and that City of Whitewater officials did not record it for the District.
It’s worth reminding, however, that the Whitewater Unified School District’s own policy, at 822.1, commits the WUSD – without the aid of a third party – to “[r]ecordings of Board meetings [that] will be made available online. They will also be accessible to the public in accordance with state law and Board policy.”
There is no better record than a recording. The gap between a brief summary and a full recording is a notably qualitative one. It’s kind of you to answer any particular agenda questions that I might have, but open government requires more than the spooning of information only to those who inquire after it.
There are some efforts deserving of persistence; open government is among them.
Best wishes for a happy Memorial Day holiday,
Here is a public records request that I submitted to the Whitewater Unified School District this morning. A methodical approach is a sound one. See Steps for Blogging on a Policy or Proposal.
The request appears below:
Dr. Mark Elworthy, District Administrator
Whitewater Unified School District
419 S. Elizabeth Street
Whitewater, WI 53190
Re: School Board Video of 5.13.19
Dear Dr. Elworthy:
I am writing to you in your role as records custodian for the Whitewater Unified School District (WUSD Board Policy 823). Pursuant to Wis. Stat. §§ 19.31 et seq., I hereby request that you provide any records within the custody or control of the Whitewater Unified School District concerning the subject listed below:
Any audio or video recording of the 5.13.19 Whitewater Unified School District board meeting, including a recording of only part of the full session.
I request that the recordings be provided without charge pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 19.35(3)(e). A waiver of processing and copying charges in this case is in the public interest. As you know, WUSD Board Policy 822.1, “Broadcasting and Taping of Board Meeting,” provides that “Regular and special School Board meetings will be broadcast live to community residents when possible. Recordings of Board meetings will be made available online. They will also be accessible to the public in accordance with state law and Board policy.”
These records concern public matters, and are not sought for commercial use.
If the Whitewater Unified School District chooses to assert a charge for a request concerning public matters, non-commercial use, and in fulfillment of the WUSD Board’s own policies, please submit any proposed charge at the email address listed below. Wisconsin Public Records Law Compliance Guide 61-63 (November 2015).
I will accept posting online as fulfillment of this request concerning any full or partial audio or video recording. If the Whitewater Unified School District declines to post any available audio or video records online, they may be sent to me at an online Dropbox account I will provide for you upon your request.
If any material responsive to this request is deemed to be exempt from disclosure, please identify the material withheld and specify the asserted basis for the exemption. Please release all segregable portions of otherwise exempt material.
Note that Wisconsin law requires that requested documents be produced “as soon as practicable and without delay.” Wis. Stat. § 19.35(4)(a). The Wisconsin Department of Justice policy provides that 10 days is ordinarily a reasonable time for response to an open records request. Wisconsin Department of Justice, Wisconsin Public Records Law Compliance Guide at 15 (November 2015).
If you have any questions about this request, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
cc: Jodie TenPass, email@example.com.