Major FOIA Violations Found By Delaware DOJ At DelTech Community College Regarding Open Meetings & Transparency

I filed a Freedom of Information Act complaint against DelTech Community College on May 10th, 2017.  The Delaware Department of Justice issued their legal opinion on the FOIA complaint today.  They found that DelTech violated open meeting law with their College Educational Foundation and The Collegewide Criminal Justice Advisory Board.

First, the Attorney General had to determine if these two entities are public bodies.  They found both are.  Especially noteworthy is their Foundation.  Because their Foundation consists of seven members from the college’s Board of Trustees, and four board members represents a quorum, they are a public body that must make their meetings public and produce minutes from each meeting.

…any gathering of the Foundation that includes a quorum of the Board of Trustees, and during which public business is discussed, is considered a meeting of the Board of Trustees to which FOIA’s open meeting requirements are applicable.

I did name other groups at the school, specifically their Collegewide Safety/Security Committee, Ad Hoc President’s Council, President’s Council, and Learning Community Collegewide Steering Committee.  Because those groups are made up of staff members, they are not considered a public body thus they are immune to open meeting law.

It’s hard sometimes to win these things.  There are ambiguities in state code that can turn a predicted victory into a moment of defeat.  But I was very pleased with the outcome of this one and what it means for other such entities floating around Delaware.  Time to do some reaching out to other various foundations in the state.  For those who think this might apply to Delaware State University or University of Delaware, think again.  They are exempt from FOIA law in Delaware.

To read the full legal opinion issued by Deputy Attorney General Carla Jarosz, please read below:

An Important Message About Comments & Articles On Exceptional Delaware

As a parent, the topic of opt-out is VERY personal to me.  It reaches right into our home.  But we have to realize there are those who have differing views.  It’s what makes us America.  As proponents of opt-out, we may disagree with those views, but we have to allow others to express their opinion, otherwise we are taking away their ability to make their own choices.  But what should not be tolerated are attacks that cross the line, that delve into matters that should not be a matter of public record and have no bearing on the issues at hand.

Delaware is a weird little state.  So many citizens either work for the state, are married to someone who works for the state, or have relationships or are friends with someone in that capacity.  I know they say opposites attract, but the reality in most situations is we tend to associate with like-minded persons.  With that being said, comments in this blog reflecting these situations beyond the topic at hand will either be moderated or deleted.  If someone speaks out publicly and they themselves introduce it into the matter of public opinion, that’s one thing.  Or if an extreme conflict of interest washes over into something that affects the public interest, than I believe that should be addressed.  But comments that either have no bearing or have the ability to deeply offend someone really shouldn’t happen.

We are all adults, but if you are writing a comment and that little voice goes off inside your head saying “Should I be doing this?”, please listen to that voice.  I get attacked all the time over on Kilroy’s.  But I also comment freely over there and I know I will get attacked.  I see Kilroy’s as the wild west of the blogs in Delaware.  Some examples of things I have written about on here are Family Foundations Academy.  I wrote about personal relationships within the school.  They were already a part of the official public comment period on the school, and it clearly created a severe conflict of interest for the school.  So that, in my opinion is fair game.  I have also written about a married couple who hold high positions in a state Department and one of their contractors.  Do I believe that is a conflict of interest?  Yes.

I posted an article yesterday about two educators in our state and their connections with outside companies.  They both publicly commented against opt out in a public forum.  Do I think they hate children? No.  I don’t think anyone goes into teaching because they don’t like kids.  Do I disagree with their ideology?  Yes, in regards to opt out and standardized testing.  They may be the greatest teachers in the world, but I firmly believe they are doing a disservice to children in opposing opt-out.

It has been a rare occasion where I have had to delete a comment.  It’s not something I enjoy doing, but I will if I have to.  None of this changes my viewpoints on any of the issues I speak about.  But we have to remember we are all people, with real feelings and emotions.  Respect goes both ways.  Thank you, and let’s fight the good fight, no matter which side we are on.