DougCo schools could face another CORA lawsuit

Suzie Glassman

By: Suzie Glassman/NewsBreak Denver

(Castle Rock, CO) The DougCo school district could soon face another lawsuit for failing to provide requested documents under the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA).

Robert Marshall, who is suing the district for allegedly violating Colorado open meetings laws, says he plans to submit a letter appealing the district’s denial of five records requests.

Marshall believes the DougCo school district will continue to violate the state’s Sunshine laws unless it's held accountable for refusing to turn over public documents.

Colorado doesn’t offer a way to appeal a records denial without going to court. However, individuals must notify the records custodian in writing that they plan to file a lawsuit 14 days before doing so.

In those 14 days, the records custodian must talk with the requestor and try to resolve the dispute before going to court.

Marshall alleges district continues to violate Sunshine Laws

Marshall asked the district to provide a copy of the binders used at a November training meeting in Estes Park, for newly-elected board members Mike Peterson, Christy Williams, Becky Myers, and Kaylee Winegar.

The district refuses to produce copies of the binders, saying the board members used the binders before they became public officials. Marshall claims the four board members referenced the binders at a public board meeting and continue to use them while completing public business, making them subject to CORA disclosure.

Marshall also asked for director Williams’ notes regarding hiring the law firm Gessler and Blue and the voicemail left to her from Scott Gessler asking for the district’s business.

DougCo cites attorney-client privilege, but Gessler had not become the district’s attorney at the time of the voicemail.

Marshall also claims the records custodian inappropriately redacted an email from director Elizabeth Hansen to director Peterson regarding an ethics violation related to the district’s outside counsel, William Trachman. Trachman later withdrew from representing the board.

The district denied Marshall’s request for a copy of Trachman’s withdrawal letter.

Marshall seeks help from the community through a GoFundMe campaign to cover fees associated with filing the 14-day letter and then the suit filing fee and initial costs. Donors have contributed $2,753 of the $2,700 goal.

Judge rules in favor of 9News, Kyle Clark lawsuit

District Court Judge Jeffrey K. Holmes ruled that the Douglas County records custodian must allow Kyle Clark to inspect the withdrawn CORA request for the names of teachers who requested sick leave on February 3rd.

Kyle Clark later tweeted, “i​​n an emailed statement, Kane said he submitted the request in his personal capacity as a parent of DCSD students. Kane filed a request for the names the same day Caplis said on-air, ‘somebody smart is going to get the names of everybody who’s once again abandoning the children.’”

Marshall said in a Facebook post that it would have been easy for Kane to limit the request to the names of teachers at his children’s school if he was asking as a concerned parent and nothing else.

DougCO school district sees massive increase in CORA requests

The DougCo school district’s records custodian may have the most demanding job in the district since the four majority school board members fired former superintendent Corey Wise.

CORA requests were 320 percent greater in March than the same month one year ago. It’s clear from the March log that controversy surrounding Wise’s firing and the names of teachers who took sick leave in protest on Feb. 3 remain top of mind.

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I'm a reporter covering the Douglas County School District in Colorado.

Denver, CO

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