Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Dixie district will lift anonymity of name debaters

The community is pretty sick of this foodfight.

Dixie district will lift anonymity of name debaters

Tensions high in advance of Tuesday’s meeting on name change

By KERI BRENNER | kbrenner@marinij.com | Marin Independent Journal
PUBLISHED: February 11, 2019 at 6:36 pm | UPDATED: February 12, 2019 at 6:02 am

Dixie School District officials said they will re-release letters submitted for public comment about the district’s hotly debated name change issue that were previously redacted to hide the names of the writers.

Board President Brad Honsberger said Monday that he and fellow board member Alissa Chacko made the redactions after district Superintendent Jason Yamashiro told them the district had received calls from some of the letter writers who were worried that their names would be published.

Honsberger indicated Monday that it was “my understanding” that district staff would repost the letters in unredacted form. He did not say exactly when that would happen.

Almost two dozen letters with redacted names were posted on the district website in advance of Tuesday’s board meeting, public hearing and vote on 13 petitions for new names submitted by district residents. The meeting will be 5:30 p.m. at Miller Creek Middle School, 2255 Las Gallinas Ave.

“After the repository for public comment was set up, we had our regular agenda setting meeting,” Honsberger said in an email. “The superintendent informed Alissa and I that the district has received a number of calls from the public that they didn’t know their comments would be made public and requested privacy.”

“Our superintendent said it wouldn’t be fair to redact only some and suggested we do all,” Honsberger said. “Ms. Chacko and I agreed. Since then, we have found out through legal counsel that the public records act requires all documents to be offered in their entirety.”

It was not immediately clear why some names — such as that of name change supporter Bruce Anderson — were left unredacted while most of the other names were blacked out.

Meanwhile, board member Marnie Glickman said she has filed a public records act request to obtain unredacted copies of all name-change-related correspondence from Dec. 1, 2018, to present. She said it was not fair to the letter writers to have their names blacked out since “anonymous comments are not treated as seriously as comments with known authors. The authors of these letters are the victims.”

In January, the district removed names, home addresses and other personal information on signatories of the 13 name-change petitions after an outcry about privacy issues. Each petition was required to have 15 valid signatures in order to be considered for Tuesday’s public hearing.

In that case, the privacy concerns were warranted, according to a determination by Marin County Registrar of Voters Lynda Roberts.

Legal officials familiar with the California Public Records Act said Monday that names on letters submitted as public comment do not necessarily fall under the “invasion of privacy” exemption of the act — as would personal information such as home addresses, bank records or Social Security numbers.

“(With) the mere name of a person who submits a letter to a public body, it’s hard to imagine how redacting that could be justified under the California Public Records Act, even with a controversy (surrounding it),” said David Snyder, executive director of the San Rafael-based First Amendment Coalition. “It’s understood when you send a note to a public body in advance of a public hearing that (it is public record). It’s hard to make the argument that folks would have the expectation that their identities would be concealed.” See the full Article HERE.

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