Grand Island Public Schools response to public records request in dispute

A local radio station said it was disappointed by a response from Grand Island Public Schools...
A local radio station said it was disappointed by a response from Grand Island Public Schools for public records.(MGN)
Published: May. 4, 2022 at 3:19 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - In a statement posted on its website, a Grand Island radio station said it was disappointed in the Grand Island Public Schools response to a lawsuit filed to get access to public records.

Legacy Communications, which operates seven radio stations in the Grand Island community, including KRGI, sued last week after it said GIPS failed to respond to a public records requests made April 15 and April 18. Legacy asked for numerous records related to a Panorama survey of students done earlier in the year. A court affidavit indicated Legacy asked for contracts and payment for the survey, documents and internal communication designating who would have access to the survey results, the survey form and instructions, any press releases or communication to the public or students about the survey, information about committees formed to study student safety, and copies of email sent by the administration to GIPS staff.

Legacy made the public records request after the firing of varsity boys soccer coach Jeremy Jensen. The district had accused Jensen of posting images of Panorama survey results. Legacy subsequently sued the district after it claimed GIPS had not responded properly to the public records request.

Legacy said GIPS had provided documents to them, but the radio group claimed the district was not responsive.

“We submitted a number of requests to GIPS under the Nebraska Public Records Act and expected not only a prompt reply, but a complete and genuine one that reflected the importance and seriousness of the issues,” said CEO Alan Usher. “Of the 248-page response, 114 pages were a cover letter and staff employee handbooks and many of the other documents provided were simply not responsive. Unfortunately, myself and the rest of the community are still waiting for GIPS to comply.”

Usher went on to say “There are very few answers given to the questions that were asked, but at the core of what we asked and didn’t receive were:

1. What were the survey questions you asked the children, parents, and teachers

2. What were the aggregate answers to those questions

3. Did you follow listed legal guidelines when administering the surveys?

All very specific questions that are still unanswered. Further, GIPS failed to provide the contract with Panorama as well as invoices and payments showing what GIPS has used taxpayer money for.”

Local4 reached out to GIPS for comment and this is what their legal team had to say late Wednesday:

“Late this afternoon, GIPS received a narrowed and revised records request from KRGI. KRGI’s original request was very broad. As a result, GIPS appreciates KRGI’s apparent acknowledgment that its original records request was overbroad. In turn, GIPS looks forward to continuing to work with KRGI to provide responsive records in accordance with the District’s legal obligations, while continuing to maintain student and staff privacy.”

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