School board members sue district over request for records | TCTA
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Gavel, law books and scales of justice

School board members sue district over request for records

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Two school board members filed a lawsuit against a school district, alleging that they made requests for documents and information from the district in their official capacities as school board members and that the district failed to provide all the information they requested. The district denied this and claimed that it provided everything.

In its response to the lawsuit, the district further claimed that the board members failed to go through the proper process prior to filing the lawsuit because they did not file a grievance and then an appeal to the commissioner of education.

The district also claimed that by the time the lawsuit was filed the board members were no longer entitled to the documents cited in the lawsuit because their terms had ended and they were no longer on the board. The district argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed for these reasons. The district court denied this request and the school district appealed.

The court of appeals noted that there is a specific law that gives a school board member a right of access to information, documents and records maintained by the district. The law requires the district to provide the information, documents and records to the board member without requiring the member to submit a public information request. The law also specifically states that a board member can bring suit against the district if it fails to comply with this requirement.

Because of this, the court of appeals held that the board members did not have to file a grievance prior to filing their lawsuit. The court did partially agree with the district that the board members no longer had access to the records because they were no longer on the board; however, they were entitled to be awarded attorneys' fees due to the cost incurred in filing the lawsuit to enforce the law.