WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- The Massachusetts Teachers Union (MTA) threatened court action on Friday and requested that school officials delay release of records about a supposed $50,000 payment in 2009 to a former teacher, characterizing the request as involving a "personnel action." The union is asking that the town seek guidance from the state before their release. The town agreed when it signed the agreement not to discuss or communicate about its terms "except as required by law."
(All mentioned documents at: http://www.newshare.com/openrecords.pdf )
In a May 7 letter to Joel B. Bard, Williamstown's Boston-based legal counsel, MTA attorney Ira C. Fader writes that although the Massachusetts Open Records Act requires release of public records within 10 days of a request, "the town would not be in violation of its obligations by requesting an opinion of the Supervisor of Public Records regarding its obligation in these circumstances." The letter was provided to this blog by the school.
Fader's letter proposes that "rather than have to seek a temporary restraining order from a court on Monday, I am certain we can accommodate the interests of the town, the school district, the association and the individual through a mutual and timely discussion."
A staffer at the MTA office in Boston said at 4:15 p.m. on Friday that Fader was at the annual meeting of the MTA, the state's largest teachers union. She said she would leave a message for him to call. Mr. Bard, the town lawyer, relayed a message through a staffer in his Boston law office that he would not speak to this blogger, referring inquiries to town officlals.
An official at the Williamstown Public Schools said the school district, Lynn Sadlowski, noted that the school district, under the state Open Records Act, has 10 days from receipt of a document request to comply. She said the district had not made any decision about how to react to the MTA's letter. The MTA attorney said he had received a letter from the town "concerning your intention to release certain documents on MOnday, May 10 . . . . "
In a letter dated May 6, school Supt. Rose P. Ellis advised in a letter to William P. Densmore Jr., the citizen who requested the documents: "We expect this review will be completed within the statutory response time of ten days, on or before May 14th. My office is in the process of segregating the requested documents from our extensive files and redacting information that is related to personnel or contains specific names. Furthermore, we have a contractual agreement to contact staff at the Williamstown Educational Association within five days prior notice of disclosure." The association is a local unit of the MTA.