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Banner Files Complaint Against CAB
March 7, 2007 - The Banner filed a formal complaint with the Office of the Public Access Counselor last week alleging the Charles A. Beard Memorial School Corporation recently violated the state's public access laws by failing to protect public records from loss or destruction.
On February 2, The Banner filed a request with CAB asking for copies of certain public records pertaining to Amanda (Harvey) Zurwell, the school corporation's former business manager who had abruptly resigned less than two weeks before that. Among the records requested were e-mails that Zurwell had sent to or received from school board members, Superintendent David McGuire, any other CAB administrator and/or current or former members of the central office staff since November 1, 2006. CAB's public access officer, Jena Schmidt, responded to The Banner's request in a letter dated February 7. She wrote, "According to our technology director, due to the restructuring of Central Office technology, all electronic e-mails were lost in the recent upgrade."
In its complaint filed with the PAC, The Banner notes that the state's Access to Public Records Act requires CAB and other public agencies to "protect public records from loss, alteration, mutilation, or destruction. …" The newspaper argues that CAB failed to fulfill this duty and violated the APRA when it didn't preserve the e-mails it claims were lost during the technology upgrade.
Once The Banner's complaint is received in her office, Karen Davis, Indiana's public access counselor, is required to provide CAB with a copy so that it has an opportunity to respond. By statute, Davis is required to issue an advisory opinion no later than 30 days after her office receives the complaint.
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