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Lehighton seeks help dealing with fallout from right-to-know requests made by Bradley

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    Bradley

Published November 20. 2018 12:44PM

 

Lehighton Area School District has tabbed a Bethlehem law firm as special counsel to deal with legal matters stemming from Right To Know requests from one of its board members.

By a 5-4 vote Monday, Lehighton’s board appointed King, Spry, Herman, Freund and Faul LLC at an hourly rate of $165 with invoices to be presented on a monthly basis.

According to the resolution provided by the district, the firm’s duties include “research of potential sources of relief from (David) Bradley’s actions, communication with district solicitor William Schwab and the board regarding legal options, and representation of the district in legal proceedings as authorized by the board.”

In August, the district appealed a decision by the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records directing the release of more than 7,700 emails of Superintendent Jonathan Cleaver and several high school administrators. Bradley, a school board director ending his first year in office, sought the emails.

Bradley is part of several other lawsuits against the district, claiming in part that it violated the Sunshine Act and alleging it failed to allow people to speak at public meetings.

Before the vote Monday night to hire the firm, Bradley said the district was on a witch hunt.

“It looks like certain people on this board are using their individual authority to create a witch hunt on those of us trying to make this district comply with law,” Bradley said.

Requests denied

Cleaver said the emails requested by Bradley were denied because compliance would have required violations of other laws including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Eric Filer, an attorney with William Schwab and Associates, the firm that normally represents the district, said Monday’s motion to appoint special counsel was specifically to deal with items concerning Bradley and no other residents.

“Bradley has repeatedly contested, without merit, the district’s response to his request for records,” the resolution approved Monday read.

One of the directors who voted for the appointment of special counsel, Rita Spinelli, said one of the reasons Bradley doesn’t get information is “because he can’t be trusted.”

“There is a big difference between transparency and tabloid sensationalism,” Spinelli said. “People value their right to privacy and do not want things becoming Facebook fodder.”

Director Joy Beers said she voted against using the firm for this matter, saying it opens the district up for litigation based on misappropriation of funds.

Bradley said while he’s all for personal privacy, he doesn’t support privacy from governmental agencies such as a school district.

“The government that oversees this administration should be able to have access to information without having to file an RTK,” Bradley said. “How much we spend on things like the solicitor or on credit cards is being cast aside and hidden and obstructed by the administration.”

Bradley said he thinks the district could save “hundreds of thousands of dollars by not funneling RTK requests through the solicitor’s office.”

During his superintendent report Monday, Cleaver said Bradley again requested his emails, 608 pages of information covering just half a month.

“The past email request via RTK for several of our administrative staff emails has already cost this district over $6,000,” Cleaver said. “The security tape request from Mr. Bradley and (Barbara) Bowes has cost this district over $3,500. Then we have an additional amount of over $2,500 the district has in other requests from Mr. Bradley over the past three months.”

The request for security tape from a board meeting was denied by the district and upheld by the Office of Open Records. Since the district now has two school police officers, it is now considered a law enforcement agency by legislative statute and does not have to release security tapes filmed in its facilities.

According to Cleaver, Bradley responded to the Office of Open Records attorney and used the phrases, “I am framing this one. Made my day.”

“It is unfortunate,” Cleaver said, “that taking up valuable staff time and costing the district thousands of dollars in unbudgeted money seems to be a joke for some individuals.”

Meanwhile, Bradley said the district continues to use its solicitor’s office as “a clearinghouse for district funds to exploit the RTK law.”

“This is the most obstructive board inside of the state that I have found,” Bradley said. “It is because of the policies this district has adopted. Fighting me does not make financial sense.”

 

Comments
Constituents,

The cost to release records is near zero, with the citizen paying .25/page for a record. The cost to obstruct the rights of a citizen is thousands of dollars. The district lost their email appeal to the OOR. The State issued a Final Determination, and insead of complying with the law, the district authorized to pay money to a law firm to BLOCK the State authorized transparency, appealing the State decision to the local courts.
This law, Sunshine Act, protects our children.

It was the Office of Open Records that called Attorney Schwab's agrument 'adsurd'', not me. The State called his argument to block video records, 'absurd'. See the Final Determination. The Final Determination also reminded Superintendent Cleaver to his Rights and Authority to save the district thousands of dollars and release the records anyway, in lieu of such an absurd argument.
Superintendent Cleaver chose to obstruct the release, and side with Schwab.

They fear transparency, and are fleecing the district. They now are using two attorney's to block the PA Sunshine Act and lawful, transparency.

Video has our Assistant to the Superintendent, Tim Tkach, making Tkacky remarks about the Sunshine Act Law. He should try reading it so our children can be protected.

FERPA, Federal Privacy refers to student's Educational records. We seek Administration and District government records to be open and transparent, as REQUIRED, by law. No one cares if student #12345 had the sniffles.

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks"

I see this as 'the powers that were' trying to hold their power befire the teacher negotiations. These brainiacs think spending district money to weasel a loophole, finding absurd ways to protect Larry's king mentality as a good thing. Arrogant pride have cost this district enough, we need transparency. Transparency is free to the district, with the citizen paying up to .25 a page.

Humbly submitted as a human. Presented to my constituents for fact check and review.
Pull off the Soliticor bandaid, Transparency is nearly free, the bandaid serves little purpose to an open district with no sores to hide.


Sincerely,


Citizen David F. Bradley Sr.
Hahaha sir you are hilarious. If only you were transparent with your true intentions instead of hiding behind the ruse of doing it to save the taxpayers
Dear Lehighton, formerly Lhghtn,

Life's been good. I made good decisions, taught my children to do the same.
I chose out of the kindness in my heart to be nice and generous, sharing the wealth I didn't consume, and I brought you some vowels for Christmas. Yes I am frugal, investing wisely, gaining value where there was once no redeaming value.

Good day to to you sir/madam. What ulterior motive did you concoct?

Of all the things I do, standing up to bullies, and being blunt to the face of evil are my favorite. The lehighton board is rich with opportunies, I enjoy fixing it.

Let's see:
I promised not to run for second term as school director, so those lies are a ruse.
I promised to honor my oath and serve the community with fidelity.
I promised to root out the evil and fix this district from the inside.
I promised transparency to a district riddled with an immoral past.

I remember not so long ago, this board escorted out a veteran, silenced a community, raised taxes with a surplus, and accepted the resignation date of an admitted sexting teacher that predated his arrest, built a school and a legacy of debt without a referendum vote, sold schools to single bidders, and deprived you of your E, I, and O.

If you think, I am trying to lobby the board:
Replace Schwab, protect the children, do their duty, stop abdicating responsibilities, listen to the stakeholders, follow the law, write policy, give students rights, adjudicate the actions of the administration, let parents opt out, hold open meeting, reduce taxes, record meetings, collect information and share it with the people PRIOR to an official action. In those, you got me.

May actions prove me motives. If wwe all judge people by what they do and fail to do, and not by what they say or how they say it, you can weed out the wheat from the chaff.

I am eager, and seek your reply. If you have the means, consider sharing a few choice vowels.

Sincerely,

Citizen David F. Bradley Sr.
In the board's policies, specifically Policy #801 it states that all written requests for information go to the Right to Know officer. So, in order to obtain any information, a citizen or board member must submit a Right to Know request. I believe I have now submitted 4. One of these RTK requests showed that the public auctions of the 2 schools that were sold were not advertised according to the specifications in the PA School code (law). One was for the board room video of the July 23, 2018 meeting. Which was only submitted due to redaction of the video that was originally supplied to Mr. Bradley. It was denied and I filed an appeal. My appeal was denied due to the fact I filed the RTK too late and the information had already been overwritten. I was unaware footage was overwritten every 14 days. Now I am aware. I have no interest in filing for emails between board members or between anyone else at this point in time but that may change. Certainly some interesting facts have come to light from other people having filed RTKs for emails. My interest is in making sure that the district is run in a honest, ethical and lawful manner benefiting the students, employees and the community and providing the best education and educators the district can reasonably afford.
Barb Bowes,

Good evening. Policy 801 is just the beginning. After they turn every information request into a RTK, the typically enlist the Solicitor, spending taxpayers money.

The RTKL is similar to a District/Solicitor ATM machine for overtime, redaction etc.
To comply with the law, TRANSPARENCY, shuts down the excessive costs, shuts down the chaos.

Sincerely,

Citizen David F. Bradley Sr.
The district has admitted hiring special counsel solely to deal with this individual ''s right to make Right-to-Know requests. I do believe that the district may be laying the ground work for a federal lawsuit in actively and conspicuously working against this individual ''s right to Equal Protection. The District should fulfill the individual ''s Right-to-Know requests and stop acting like turning over documents in support of the law is "too much trouble". A federal lawsuit will cost far more!
It is disingenuous for the district to claim that they can't afford to make $0.10 copies, so they'll hire a solicitor at $165/hr to help them figure out how to get out of making $0.10 copies. Does that make sense to you? There is obviously something else at work here that has nothing to do with the cost of copies. Thank God for individuals that demand transparency in government and exercise their legal right to make Right-to-Know Requests!
Excellent comments. But their issue (it seems) is the amount of time it takes for the RTK officer to fulfill the requests. If we look at this logically though, if they took the information that was legally available to the public and put it on the website, it would negate the need to file a RTK request. Yes, it would cost more for the bandwidth for the website, and would not do any good for RTKs for emails, but choosing transparency would then negate the need to file a RTK for the emails.
It is disingenuous for the district to claim that they can't afford to make $0.10 copies, so they'll hire a solicitor at $165/hr to help them figure out how to get out of making $0.10 copies. Does that make sense to you? There is obviously something else at work here that has nothing to do with the cost of copies. Thank God for individuals that demand transparency in government and exercise their legal right to make Right-to-Know Requests!
The Right-to-Know Law does Not allow for the district, or anyone, to charge for the time involved in actually complying with the law. The intent of the Law was to protect citizens from government secrecy and corruption. Its purpose was not to provide government entities with a new source of revenue.
It's not the cost of the paper. The open records officer probably has other duties than just responding to your requests. It seems like you are harassing them with repeated frivolous requests. The cost is man hours you jack ass. They are hiring an attorney not to stop the average citizen from filing a request, but to stop you from harassing them and obstructing the administration of their business. What exactly are you trying to prove anyway?
Someone who comments something like this on an article published about a young girl being sexually assaulted should not be taken seriously. What is the matter with you! https://www.tnonline.com/police-lehighton-man-lured-girl-cemetery-assaulted-her

new

krystal method

Wed, 11/21/2018 - 15:35

Permalink
HAHA SHE WAS 8 BEFORE SHE WAS 7 LOL

Reply

Again, whether the Open Records Officer has other duties or not, the law is clear. The district may not charge anyone for their time spent in complying with the law, and there is no limit on the number of requests a person can make. The law is Not on the side of the district in this case, and the District has moved itself into a greater position of liability by targeting a single individual and by mis-appropriating funds. Like it or not, the fools that are running this show should let their insurance provider know what they have done, before a lawsuit forces their hand and makes them tell their insurance carrier.
You're as big of an assclown as that Bradley character. Misuse of the public records law by the relentless public records vigilante undermines the law’s objective of public access to information. The virtually unfettered rights in the public records laws need to be fettered. Until reform occurs, a few individuals, irresponsibly exercising their government in the sunshine rights, will continue to scald our government with a blistering case of sunburn.
Constituents,

Good afternoon. All the RTK requests, including those for emails, relate to the government activities within the government. None involve students. If they did the district could have easily, and lawfully asked for an amended request.

I respect and support individual privacy and an open, transparent government.

But secret back door entrance meetings they are having,(see the Rita email) student rights issues, and potential violations of the Federal Constitution, 1st, 4th, 5th, and 14th amendments need to be exposed for our government to fix the problems. We were elected to fix it. I am fixing it. Omelet style.

Stakeholders and the board need factual information to make knowledgeable decisions. Transparency will expose this government school's current lack of oversight, in essence making for authoritarian control by the Solicitor and Superintendent.

This is a few district board members, 5, teaming with a Superintendent and Solicitor in an attempt to intimidate a citizen director. The impending suit, probably a SLAPP suit, usually borders on frivolous, filed to intimidate the community. Telling all the little Indians in the community to clam up, or the big Chief will attempt to smite you. I see the suits back firing with dozens of citizens filing similar RTK requests out of curiosity. The laws are clear, and favor transparency, thus their need for intimidation tactics.

Transparent schools spend little on RTK requests. This district however, uses the RTK system as a clearing house for Solicitor fees, it appears ALL requests, mine specifically are sent to the solicitor for review, and his fees to review are tacked on. This is a honey pot that is currently costing the district tens of thousands of dollars, I am shutting it down. The 5 tend to promote such obstruction.

This witch hunt is a choice, and rather than expose themselves and their careers they chose to use taxpayer's funds to fight transparency, attempting to hide their acts of government.

Look at motives. Supporter and naysayers views welcome. The former accelerates reform and the latter exposes the need for the former.

Citizen David F. Fradley Sr.
Lehighton needs the Feds to come in and investigate the Lehighton District School Board. I think the Feds could find alot of unlawful doings.
It is indeed unfortunate, that previous RTK requests for emails have netted proof of collusion with the desired result to circumvent public comment at meetings. Once trust is lost it is difficult if not impossible to regain. While I do not always agree with Dave Bradley's tactics, they are netting results and being polite and respectful sure had not worked in the past. Sometimes it is necessary for a bull in a china closet to stir things up and expose the lies. Obstruction is expensive, transparency is cheap. And with transparency all benefit in the long run except for wrongdoers. This is true of all government and citizens, not just the school board. There is a reason the Sunshine Act has broad scope, and it is not because government is honest and trustworthy. If government operated honestly, there would be no need for the Sunshine Act.
Dear Barb Bowes,

Good afternoon. I tried to reason with them. But they were obtuse. So, I decided these pigeon will need to learn the rules before I set up the chess pieces again. This the court cases.

Speak loudly and use the big legal stick of last resort. It sure seams to be effective, next wil be all the squealing as they turn on each other. Larry already wrote an excuse that contradicts his own testimony. Give it a couple weeks.

They fear transparency. This last rash of fight in them. As the final breath of obstructionism vacates their being, a wave of truth will fill the void that was their evil souls. Like the Grinch on Christmas, their lawful hearts will grow three times big.

Sincerely,

Citizen David F. Bradley Sr.

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