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Court approves Lehighton SD email release

Published January 13. 2020 12:25PM

A Bucks County resident seeking documents pertaining to Lehighton Area School District’s decision to hire an outside law firm in November 2018 will get many of the documents he requested, many partially redacted and some unredacted, following a ruling from Carbon County Common Pleas Judge Steven Serfass.

On Dec. 30, Serfass issued the ruling granting Simon Campbell access, in part, to emails regarding the district’s hiring of King, Spry, Herman, Freund and Faul LLC to handle Right To Know requests submitted by one of Lehighton’s board members, David Bradley.

Following Campbell’s request for the information in December 2018, the district handed over 4,000 documents but redacted information from 167 emails they said contained personal information which could expose the district to lawsuits.

Campbell appealed to the Office of Open Records on several grounds. OOR, after denying the district’s request for a hearing on the matter, ordered that the district hand over the 167 emails, unredacted.

The district appealed the ruling to Carbon County Court because it says the emails contain employee discipline, student information, IT security information, and information protected by attorney-client privilege.

Serfass heard testimony from the district on May 31 during an evidentiary hearing.

His ruling ordered the district to turn over 39 exhibits presented at the hearing, but said they could redact the names of Lehighton students, the names of parents discussing their children, written criticisms of district employees, the performance review of a district employee and personal email addresses. There were 14 exhibits, Serfass ruled, that should be turned over in unredacted format.

In its appeal, the district also claimed it was, “unconstitutionally denied substantive and procedural due process when the OOR denied its request for a hearing.”

According to Serfass, “any party challenging a statute’s constitutionality bears a heavy burden to demonstrate that the legislation clearly, palpably and plainly violates the terms of the Constitution.”

Serfass ruled that the district exercised its right to a judicial review of the OOR’s final decision, which “fully satisfies due process and cures any alleged violation thereof.”

Background

On a 5-4 vote in November 2018, 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 2018, the district appealed a decision by the OOR directing the release of more than 7,700 emails of Superintendent Jonathan Cleaver and several high school administrators.

Carbon County President Judge Roger Nanovic reversed that OOR decision, citing a lack of specificity in Bradley’s request.

Comments
More important, why did the district spend so much money with all these lawyers blocking lawful transparency, and challenging the constitutionality of the RTKL?

Personal privacy
Governmental transparency

Board voted 5-4 to pay counsel to attempt to block lawful transparency, a waste on many levels.

Sincerely,

Citizen David F. Bradley Sr.
Probably a friend or relative of loony citizen dave. He just hates the Lehighton School District personnel. He's costing the district more money.
The eagle has landed one, ouch, claiming I have friends.

Hate is such a harsh word, and Citizen Dave was not involved in the district's waste on this one, actually voted against the waste.

Hey Eagle, do you like personnel that fails to protect the students and save the community?
Are your Eagle eyes open to what's happening in our government schools? Sickens me.

What I truly despise is rubber-stampers that fail to protect the students and save the community. My prayers to the families.

That's all folks! Despise the lack of lawful transparency which failed to protect the students and save the community. Tell Larry Stern's wife's boss, the Superintendent, you know the administration Larry was elected to oversee, that transparency is coming to Lehighton.

Sincerely,

Citizen David F. Bradley Sr.
Do a right to know and read the emails all the past board presidents wrote and received for the substance.
The silenced community is gaining their voice back, one victory at a time.

Harrisburg, Bucks County, Montoursville, the Berwick helpers, Easton, Grove City, Pottstown, Wilkes Barre, Susquehanna, the citizens across the state are cleaning up the corruption. God Bless them.
What cost money was fighting lawful transparency. Why spend money on attorneys and court costs when lawful transparency is free?
Did you read the ruling? Makes the district look like a fool, blocking transparency and a govt fighting the constitutionality. What a waste.
I welcome debate, exchange of ideas and even anger but professional responses, BUT when adults respond with name calling, one really cannot help question their IQ. Name calling is a sign of weakness. You lose Eagle1. But I do await another one of your school yard responses.
If you read the rulings, actually read the actual rulings of the judges, and the case law that accompanies the rulings, they all apply the law well.

The key to justice is getting the right case in front of a judge.

Having a district attorney willing to hold local governments accountable to the people is going to be a huge help.

The people should fair well in carbon County over the next couple years. If the people watch their government and file the right complaints, we should all be strides ahead. Enforcement of the RTKL, Sunshine Act, Mandated Reporting, Code of ethics, Oath of office, Abuse of authority, all take people willing to file a well documented complaint. What we need next is a few people friendly attorneys to help hold government accountable.

One at a time. This was a huge win.

Sincerely,

Citizen David F. Bradley Sr.

PS. When the government overstepped it's bounds and attacked an individual director with a government sponsored SLAPP matter the entire country witnessed it, woke up and said "Not in my country". That bucks county guy is just an Anti-SLAPP activist smacking immoral use of public funds.


I find it interesting that this article has not shown up on the Times News Facebook page.

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