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State Public Access Counselor Says Ritz Office Violated Public Records Act

The Indiana Public Access Counselor has issued an advisory opinion saying it believes the Department of Education violated the state’s public access law when it failed to respond to my request last year for e-mails regarding former Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett.

A copy of the opinion can be found here.

The request sought information regarding e-mails that included the former Superintendent and his top staff which might have been data mined by Glenda Ritz’s employees once they assumed office.

The request for the e-mails was filed August 5, 2013.   Ritz’s office acknowledged they had received the request for but failed to act on them.

In a response to the Public Access Counselor,  Ritz’s office blamed the delay on a change of staff and the fact they had received numerous requests for documents regarding the former Superintendent.   Her office also claimed that the request was without merit because they intended to reply in due time.

However, the Public Access Counselor’s noted that although the request might have been voluminous,  that a year’s time was ample to comply.  It also said the Department did nothing prior to the date the complaint was filed to narrow the focus of the request, nor did it stay in semi-regular communication as recommended.

Since the issuance of the opinion, we have reached out to Ritz’s office seeking information as to when our request for the e-mails will be fulfilled.  They have not responded yet.