An Email Not Deserving of a Response

I hate to burden everyone with all the details of my communications with the Beaumont Unified School District's Board and Administration but if you see what I am up against, you may get an idea of why I am so frustrated.

If you dare, read the following email I just received from the Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, Mr. Elatar. Keep in mind while you are reading this that I was told three weeks after my first request that I had to put my request in writing in order for it to be considered. Now, retroactively, just speaking to the board is considered an additional request. And, following the board's direction to scale back the scope of my request is also considered an additional request.

If the district had an open and transparent attitude , this could have all been ended with a timely response and an offer to help me get the information I needed. All I wanted was to be able to inform parents what budget cuts the district was considering. Something they should have wanted to do on their own.

 

Following Email was received 4/17/2012

********************************************************************************

Mr. White,

 

Thank you for your email.

Please note that the detailed information of the four categories may contain exempt from public access information. The District staff has asked the legal counsel to review samples of the documents that staff identified to include:

  • ·         
  • ·         Salary abatements by employee with employee name identified,
  • ·         Mileage reimbursements by employee & by parents of special education students,
  • ·          

With the limited resources that we have, we are trying to be as responsive as we can with the various requests that you made. We also have a duty to balance your request with the need to protect the District from providing information that could be considered exempt from public access because it may retain personal information and transactions with parents of students and non-management employees.  I appreciate your understanding.

Once we receive the legal counsel response and clarification we will inform you with the next step and if it may require manual redactions of some information in these reports.  In the mean time please note that your request for the accounting SACS charts that you asked for on April 12 is available. The actual cost to the District of extracting the information in digital format other than the original county software that it is stored into is 7.50 dollars.  Please contact Ms. Julia Benavidez at the Business Services office.

 

It seems to be confusion on when and what you submitted your various requests. I would like to clarify that you have changed your requests numerous times in the last few weeks. It has been hard to keep up with the requests and the revisions that you have been making. Many of these revisions were made before the expiration of the timeline allowed by code that the District staff is required to respond to your requests, making it very difficult for the staff to follow.

 

Here are the requests and revisions that we received from you so far:    

 

March 8 at close of business day via email. You emailed to board members requesting all detailed business expenditures for 2011/12. Business Services received your email on March 12, 2012.

 

March 11 Sunday at 10:19 pm  via email. You revised your initial email to board members indicating that from March 9 (Friday) till March 11 (Sunday) the administration failed to contact you about your initial request. Business Services received your email on March 12, 2012. You further requested to narrow down your request to 4 categories:

 

Approved Textbooks and Core Curricula Materials

Materials and Supplies

Travel and Conferences

Professional Consulting Services and Operating Expenditures

 

However you asked the board to direct the District staff to analyze the data by giving you the top 10-15 largest payees in each category.  In the same email, you asked the Board the following four questions on the 2nd interim:

 

1.       Why is there a six hundred thousand dollar difference between the board approved budgeted amount and the 2012 projected amount for materials and supplies?

2.       Where did the difference between the board approved amount for travel and conferences, $153,902, and the projected amount of $ 165,021, come from?

3.       Why is there $38,375 more projected for professional consulting services than what the board approved?

4.       … and finally, the three year projected report itemizes certificated salaries and classified salaries but I don't see the trend broken out for the administration's salaries. What are the trend numbers for the superintendents' salaries and pensions.

March 13 at Board Meeting: You revised your request the third time in 5 days when you spoke to the Board in which you referenced the two emails that you sent prior and proceeded with the following request instead. The following is exact verbiage of your revised request:

“…I am here to talk about the interim report……We want to know that you (board members) know what is going on.

 

We want to know that you are asking the right questions and over the last few days I sent you couple of emails, my last email was regarding some questions that I want to ask you…..what we want to know that whether or not you can answer these questions or whether or not these questions are even important to you. I am hoping, I am not expecting much, but I am hoping that you address these questions. I will ask you the questions and you decide what you want to do, and I will set down quietly......”

 

You proceeded with asking the same 4 questions above by asking one specific question to a specific member:

The district staff took the time to analyze the existing information and sent correspondence to the board with response to these questions in late March.  Some of these items were also discussed at the Budget Review Committee in March.   

In this revised request, you were no longer requesting the information to be given to you. Rather, you wanted to make sure that the Board can answer and address your questions. The staff provided response to these questions to the board members. The staff assumed no further follow up with you was necessary as that was the extent of your revised request.

April 3 at Board Meeting: You spoke to the Board during the public comments asking why your requests were not followed up with. You then completed the Request for Public Access form that night. Your request was for digital copies of the general ledger for 2011/12. This request is different than the previous three requests as the general ledger mainly covers the 9000’s transactions. 

April 11 via email to Business Services:  You responded to District’s email that asked for clarifications of what you want and included estimated amounts of costs. Your response was to ask for the summary general ledger.You then made a new request. You asked for detailed information available for the four categories:

  • ·  Approved Textbooks and Core Curricula Materials
  • ·  Materials and Supplies
  • ·  Travel and Conferences
  • ·  Professional Consulting Services and Operating Expenditures

You also indicated that you may want detailed general ledger later.

April 12 at 8:52 pm via email to Business Services: You responded to District’s email that included the summary general ledger that you requested with new requests. You requested the information provided to be in “spreadsheet” and accounting chart.

April  16 via email to me and board members: You responded with a statement as follows:

“…The last thing I wanted was to have the district use so much of our kids’ limited resources to download pages and pages of documents and then convert them to a file format I can use. I am willing to put an end to this right now. I have a parent who has gone through the trouble of converting the General Ledger Summary file to a spreadsheet I can use. Once you provide me the chart of accounts, I will have all the General Ledger data I need for now, I may find a need to make future requests for GL data. If you just provide me with the transaction information I’ve requested for the four categories in my original request (restated in an email to you again last week), we can move on and you can focus your resources back on the business of the district.”

Thank you

 

Wael Elatar--

Assistant Superintendent of Business Services

Beaumont Unified School District

Office: 951-845-1631 x 323

Cell: (951) 233-6689

Fax: 951-845-4561