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School District Denies Public Records Request for Board Candidate Details

The Alameda Unified School District Board of Trustees has denied a public records request for certain details on board of education candidates. (File Photo)

The Alameda Unified School District Board of Trustees has denied a public records request for certain details on board of education candidates. (File Photo)

The Alameda Unified School District has denied an Action Alameda News public records request for the home addresses of school board candidates, provided in their applications, saying privacy concerns outweigh the public interest in knowing what neighborhoods candidates live in, and which neighborhood school they live near.

Action Alameda News had made the request to be able to help the public understand the neighborhoods the candidates live in and how that might impact their perspective as a sitting school board member.

The school district had previously released the candidate applications but with home addresses redacted.

The refusal comes as the Board of Trustees has narrowed the candidate list to 10 applicants and prepares to appoint a new member at its Tuesday, February 3rd meeting.

It also comes as the school district kicks-off a series of meetings – the first one is scheduled for tonight at Wood Middle School – to consider the question of consolidating the district’s two high schools into one.

Last fall, during the Measure I school tax bond measure, community activists advocated for the consolidation of the two schools to save money and remedy a perceived social-economic and racial divide between Alameda’s East and West ends.

In communicating the refusal to release the requested details, Susan Davis, Senior Manager, Community Affairs for the school district, wrote, “At this time, we believe that the applicants’ rights to privacy outweigh the public’s need to know their home addresses. By looking at their applications and, if need be, communicating with the applicants, you should be able to identify the neighborhoods in which they live, however.”

Ms. Davis did not respond to a demand to cite a specific statutory exemption under the California Public Records Act, as required by law.

Likewise, Sean McPhetridge, Interim Superintendent for the Alameda Unified School District, did not respond to an e-mail, copied to the sitting four Board of Trustee members, asking him to provide a statement on the matter and reconcile his past statements with the current public records denial.

In 2013, when McPhetridge was Assistant Superintendent for the district, he said of an independent research project exploring a perceived East/West-end divide in Alameda schools, “[The researcher] has been an active parent and parent volunteer for years in the district, and her research interest is informed by her work as a parent and PTA [Parent Teacher Association] representative; her research may be of use to the district and also to Alameda PTAs.”

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