Dispute arises from records request
December 24, 2019
A dispute over a portion of a public records request made by Sen. Tom James (R-Rock Springs) has led the senator to question a delay Superintendent Jillian Balow made this week.
James requested a list of names, positions and salaries of every school district employee in Wyoming on Nov. 27. The request was approved by the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office, but received criticism from educators throughout the state. In an email addressed to James, dated Dec. 19, Balow said both her office and the Attorney General’s office received information from multiple school districts about certain staff members uncomfortable with having their name released in accordance with James’ original request.
“I believe the information is credible and that releasing the names of these identified individuals compromises their personal safety,” Balow wrote in her email. Citing a provision in Wyoming’s public documents act, Balow said a process is needed to withhold the names of people who fear for their personal safety if they’re released. She asked James for a 30-day extension, saying she believes they can gather the appropriate information and release the information in James’ request Jan. 15, 2020.
James’ reply, released by James, called the delay unacceptable.
“Waiting until the day before a holiday week is unacceptable. You have had ample, and sufficient time to redact the names of those with legitimate safety issues,” he wrote.
James denied Balow’s request and raised issue with the idea the state’s school districts have people working closely with children who are under immediate threat of physical danger if their names are released, claiming the children are collateral damage to someone wanting to harm an employee “hiding” in the school system.
“I say we should be more concerned with protecting our children than protecting the teachers, staff, or administrators whose presence alone presents a very real risk of potential violence on our children,” he wrote.
Jamie Christensen, interim superintendent of Sweetwater County School District No. 2, said he was only aware of one person in the district who did not want their name released.