A blogger who posts for Banning-Beaumont Patch has raised questions about a recent request he made for records from Beaumont Unified School District administrators.
Lloyd White, who writes about Beaumont Unified board of trustees meetings at OurFocusOurKids.com and posts for BB Patch, said in his he made a records request in March and was told this week he must submit the request using a form created by the district.
White alleges the form was created after he made his request in March, in order to frustrate his request.
Dr. Barry Kayrell, superintendent for Beaumont Unified School District, could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
Banning-Beaumont Patch checked with Peter Scheer, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, for perspective.
"California's public records act does not require that requesters use any particular kind of form," Scheer wrote Friday after reading White's post. "In fact, requests may even be made verbally.
"That said, it is not unreasonable for government agencies, assuming they are acting in good faith, to urge the use of a particular form so that they will be sure to receive all information they will need to process requests - including, for example, contact information for the requester," Scheer wrote.
"The key, as I indicated, is the agency officials must proceed in good faith in deciding to have a request form and in the way that they communicate that requirement to requesters. Obviously, it can't be used as a trick or obstacle to avoid having to produce public records."
The First Amendment Coalition is a nonprofit public interest organization dedicated to advancing free speech, more open and accountable government, and public participation in civic affairs.
Its services include free legal consultations for journalists, activists, academics and ordinary individuals frustrated in the exercise of their First Amendment rights.