Ignorance not an excuse for board

Published 5:39 pm Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Visit the Virginia School Board Association’s website and go to Daily News thereon and at about the 16th paragraph you will find our featured now infamous Isle of Wight County School Board’s FOIA lawsuit story (“IWCS confirms FOIA settlement,” March 10).

Now all 130-plus school boards across Virginia can see our infamous board’s story. Shame is, this did not have to happen because they were given a “heads-up” on complying with FOIA by several of us over the last two years. Too, they were given FOIA Council Executive Director Allen Gernhardt’s opinion on their numerous FOIA violations back in July that had been requested by Tom Finderson.

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For the IWCS board chair, supported by her fellow board members, to say they did not intend to violate FOIA is a “real laugher.” Every school board member in Virginia receives training in FOIA’s requirements when they become a board member. Subsequently, at the numerous training conferences school board members attend each year they are in office, they receive “refresher training” in FOIA compliance.

So, it’s never been a case of the IWCS board not knowing FOIA requirements. They just chose to ignore them.

Open government is the only way interested citizens can know what their elected officials are doing, interact with them in various ways personally and ask questions of them on issues of interest. Letting the “sunshine in” keeps our local elected officials in the public scrutiny spotlight.

Now’s a great time to beat that drum.


Herb De Groft