JONESBORO A week after Clayton News Daily requested documents tied to a recent visit to Clayton County schools from school officials from Berkeley, Calif., the newspaper is still waiting to hear if the request will be filled.
Clayton County Public Schools leaders have initially claimed they can’t comply with the newspaper’s request for correspondence between Berkeley and Clayton schools officials, as well as expenses documents from the visit because they don’t exist.
“I’ve been told by the people upstairs that we can’t fulfill your open records request because we don’t have any of the records you asked for,” said school system Human Resources Manager Charles White to a reporter this week.
The newspaper is seeking documents from the district related to Clayton schools Superintendent Edmond Heatley’s expected move to Berkeley schools under Georgia’s open records law.
It was announced Aug. 31, that Heatley is the sole finalist for Berkeley’s superintendent’s position. The announcement came at the end of a two-day visit to Clayton County schools, by Berkeley officials. They were reportedly in Georgia to interview district employees about Heatley’s leadership style.
On that same day, the newspaper submitted a records request to the school district, asking for all correspondence between Clayton County schools and Berkeley schools, as well as expense documents related to a recent visit by Berkeley officials.
The request submitted to the district states the newspaper is requesting “access to, and a copy of, any correspondence between employees, school board members and representatives from Clayton County Public Schools and employees, school board members and representatives of Berkeley Unified Public Schools, in Berkeley, Calif.”
The request also states the newspaper asked for “documents which show expenses paid by Clayton County Public Schools to entertain Berkeley Unified Public Schools officials and representatives while said individuals were in Clayton County between Jan. 1, 2012 and Aug. 31, 2012.”
The types of documents Clayton News Daily sought included “letters, E-mails, memorandums, bills, copies of payment checks and receipts.”
While the school system claims it does not have any records that meet the description of requested documents, it doesn’t necessarily mean Clayton schools officials did not have any contact with Berkeley school officials. The state’s open records law does not give the public access to official’s private e-mail accounts, such as Gmail.com, Hotmail.com or Yahoo.com.
When the records request was delivered to the district, a reporter was told the three business day period within which the district was legally required to respond to the request would begin on Sept. 4 because of the Labor Day holiday. Thursday, White called the newspaper and said the district may not be able to fulfill the request.
White said he was checking again to make sure the requested documents do not exist before providing the newspaper with a final response, however. Clayton News Daily tried to reach White Friday, but was unsuccessful.