Wednesday, September 21, 2016

State seeks comments on Howard school officials' handling of public information requests

The state's Public Access Ombudsman is seeking comments concerning the Howard County Public School System's handling of public record requests from July 1, 2012 through Dec. 31, 2015.
The comment-gathering is part of an investigation into the school system's compliance with the Maryland Public Information Act. The investigation is mandated by a state law, House Bill 1105, which passed in the 2016 legislative session and was enacted on July 1.
The bill was initially proposed by state Del. Warren Miller, a Republican representing western Howard County, after parents accused Howard school officials of falsely denying the existence of public documents and exceeding legal deadlines in responding to public information requests.
The Public Access Ombudsman, Lisa Kershner, is looking for comments related to three topics: the integrity of any refusal by the Howard school system to disclose a public record; the validity of any claims by school officials that requested public records do not exist; any delay by a school official to produce a public record that was requested; and any other matter involving compliance by school officials with public information law.
Kershner's office will be accepting comments through close of business on Friday, Sept. 30. Comments can be sent to using the subject "RE: HB 1105"; or mailed to the Office of the Public Access Ombudsman, 200 Saint Paul Place, Baltimore, MD 21202-2021.

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