May 14, 1996

In re: David J. Wallen/Superintendent, Floyd County Schools


This matter comes to the Attorney General as a purported appeal by David J. Wallen in connection with his request to the Superintendent of the Floyd County Schools for information and documents.

In a letter to Dr. John L. Balentine, Superintendent of the Floyd County Schools, dated April 17, 1996, Mr. Wallen stated that his request was submitted pursuant to KRS 156.101(6) and (10) and an enumerated section of the policy of the Floyd County School Board. Mr. Wallen wanted the names of those certified persons serving on the evaluation appeals panel and the dates they were elected. He also requested the proper form on which to file an appeal and the procedures that will be followed concerning an appeal.

Mr. Balentine responded to Mr. Wallen in a letter dated April 22, 1996. Mr. Balentine noted that the request letter pertained to information involving an appeal of an unsatisfactory evaluation. He advised Mr. Wallen that since the time to appeal the “summative evaluation” had expired, the evaluation as filed by the principal shall stand as final.

Mr. Wallen submitted a letter to this office, received April 26, 1996, complaining that Mr. Balentine's letter did not respond to his requests and asking whether this represents a violation of the Open Records Act.

In a letter to this office, received May 6, 1996, Mr. Balentine said Mr. Wallen's letter had not been treated as a request under the Open Records Act. Mr. Balentine noted that Mr. Wallen had received an unsatisfactory evaluation and had not appealed within the required five day time period. Since the state statute and the section of the school board's policy referred to in Mr. Wallen's letter related to the appeal of an evaluation, Mr. Balentine said his response was limited to that issue. He also stated that if Mr. Wallen should make a request for documents under the Open Records Act the school system will comply with the requirements of that Act.

This office has a precise and narrow function in connection with the interpretation and application of the Open Records Act. KRS 61.880(2)(a) requires that when a matter has been properly presented to the Attorney General for review, this office shall review the request and the denial and issue a written decision stating whether the agency violated the provisions of the Open Records Act. The Attorney General's responsibility and obligation is to determine whether a public agency has properly withheld public records from public inspection and whether a request to inspect public records was properly denied under the terms and provisions of KRS 61.870 to KRS 61.884.

The letter to the school superintendent cited statutes and school board policy provisions specifically relating to the appeal of the evaluations of certified school system personnel. There was no mention of a request to inspect and copy public documents pursuant to the terms of the Open Records Act. It was logical and proper for the school superintendent to respond to a matter relating to the appeal of an evaluation by referring to the evaluation process and his interpretation of that process. This office cannot within the confines of its duties and obligations under the Open Records Act render a decision or even venture an opinion relative to the evaluation of certified school system personnel and the appeal of an evaluation under that process.

It is, therefore, the decision of the Attorney General that the school superintendent did not violate the Open Records Act as the request to him, which involved the appeal of the evaluations of certified school system personnel, did not raise an issue involving the interpretation and application of the Open Records Act.

A party aggrieved by this decision may appeal it by initiating action in the appropriate circuit court pursuant to KRS 61.880(5) and KRS 61.882. Pursuant to KRS 61.880(3), the Attorney General should be notified of any action in circuit court, but should not be named as a party in that action or in any subsequent proceeding.






Copies of this decision

have been delivered to:

David J. Wallen

P.O. Box 1491

Prestonsburg, Kentucky 41653

John L. Balentine, Ed.D.

Superintendent, Floyd County Schools

69 North Arnold Avenue

Prestonsburg, Kentucky 41653