NPRI calls for putting teeth into public records law

“So, sue me,” seems to be the attitude of so many in Nevada government agencies when they are asked to comply with the state’s public records law.

They have no skin in the game. They just hire expensive lawyers at taxpayer expense to fight the request.

Take, for example, Nevada Policy Research Institute’s lawsuit this week over being denied Clark County School District emails relating to a possible termination of a whistleblower who reported possible test falsification. The district claimed the emails contained confidential information and refused to release anything, even though the law clearly states:

“A governmental entity that has legal custody or control of a public book or record shall not deny a request made pursuant to subsection 1 to inspect or copy or receive a copy of a public book or record on the basis that the requested public book or record contains information that is confidential if the governmental entity can redact, delete, conceal or separate the confidential information from the information included in the public book or record that is not otherwise confidential.”

NPRI Policy Director Robert Fellner was quoted in a press release as saying, “Despite state law mandating government agencies to be fully transparent to the people they ostensibly serve, CCSD knows it can violate the law with impunity, secure in the knowledge that none of its officials will ever face any penalty for their deliberate lawbreaking.”

That is why NPRI is calling on the Nevada Legislature to impose penalties on those who defy the law. Makes sense doesn’t it?

The purpose of the public records law is so the voters can hold public officials accountable when they act in a manner not in their best interest.



What is the bottom line when students switch to charter schools?

Recently the morning newspaper reported that the Clark County School District plans to create a job — costing $117,000 — whose purpose will be to slow the number of students bailing out of the district and opting to attend charter schools.

“When a child leaves the school district for a charter school, the state per-pupil funding and some local revenues that would have gone to Clark County departs as well,” the story explains.

Some local revenues, but not all. If the district unloads the entire expense of educating the departing student but retains some of the local revenue, how is that a drain?

Back in December the newspaper reported that the district issued a statement saying 1,400 more students enrolled in a charter school than projected, and this higher-than-expected charter school enrollment would cost the district $9 million in lost revenue.

According to CCSD, the district’s 2016-17 budget had per-pupil expenditures at $8,512, meaning the exit of 1,400 students would reduce spending by $11.9 million. Lose $9 million in revenue but cut spending by $11.9 million, sounds like a savings of $2.9 million.

Spending $117,000 to avoid saving $2.9 million? Where’s the logic in that?

“This is a position that is expected to raise money for the district by bringing children back in. It will pay for itself,” School Board member Carolyn Edwards was quoted as saying. “In essence, it’s not a cut, it’s actually an increase to the budget.”

Besides, what would the job entail? Cajoling? Badgering?