Nev. school district ordered to release e-mails

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

LAS VEGAS — A judge has ordered the Clark County school board to turn over e-mails to a citizen watchdog who challenged its public-records policy in court.

In an order distributed yesterday, District Court Judge Susan Johnson ruled that e-mails created on public servers regarding public business fall within the state’s definition of a public record. Johnson ruled the burden was on the school district to prove that individual e-mails were not public records before denying them to activist Karen Gray.

Gray filed a lawsuit in June 2007 seeking copies of board members’ e-mails from November 2005 to November 2006. Gray was concerned the members were violating the state’s open-meetings law by discussing school board business in private, said Lee Rowland, an attorney with the ACLU of Nevada, which represented Gray.

Rowland praised the order, saying the judge ruled “broadly in favor of public disclosure.”

Michael Rodriguez, a spokesman for the school district, did not return a call seeking comment in time for this story.

Johnson ordered the district to create a log of e-mails it considers private under Nevada public-records law. The log will be reviewed by the judge.

In her Feb. 12 ruling, Johnson also found that Gray was not required to reimburse the district for the three hours it would take to process her request because it was not an “extraordinary use of personnel.”

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