Brickbat: Paper Chase


The Fairfax County, Virginia, school board has sued two mothers trying to force them to return documents it released to one of them under an open records request. The school system released 1,000 pages of receipts from its law firm to Debra Tisler. Her friend Callie Oettinger published some of them on her website. School officials say they did not realize the documents had not been thoroughly redacted and contained confidential information. They want Tisler to return the documents and Oettinger to remove them from her website. The mothers are represented by the Goldwater Institute, which argues they have a First Amendment right to publish the information.

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  1. Public schools are finally becoming openly aggressive about their authority over your tax dollars and your children.

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    2. It's not only the schools. In our area there lawyers that fight every property tax assessment adjustment that might result in lower taxes. Those lawyers are retained by the Teacher's Union. The Union stand is that property taxes shouldn't be lowered because the money belongs to the school districts and should be available for teacher's salaries.

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  2. The school system released 1,000 pages of receipts from its law firm to Debra Tisler.

    reification: noun: regarding something abstract as a material thing

    The school system didn't release the documents, somebody who works for the school system released the documents. If the documents shouldn't have been released, that somebody wasn't doing their job properly. Have they been identified and properly held accountable for their failure? No? It's just one of those things that happens and it's nobody's fault? Then fuck you, publishing the documents is just one of those things that happens and it's nobody's fault.

    1. That person released those documents because the school board was paying them to do so, under a state FOIA law that the school board is required to follow, using procedures the school board created. That person was acting as an agent of the school board. It's much more accurate to say that the school board released those documents than to say the employee did.

      1. No, it's accurate only to say the employee released them. It has not yet been established whether that employee was following school board procedures, and even if so, it was still the employee who released them, in the name of the school board.

        People do things. Organizations do not.

        1. The distinction being moot to the point of culpability and mens rea. If I agree to buy something off of you for $100 and accidentally give you $500, it's polite of you to say "You fucked up, here's your $400 back." but "I fucked up." is not sufficient justification for me to leap over the counter and take back the money. If I gave the money to a proxy and he gave you the extra $400 with intent to embezzle/defraud, then I have a case. If someone on the board crafted the redaction rules specifically so that personal information was unduly disclosed, their return may be in order.

  3. I'm sure AG Garland had this in mind when he sent his memo...

    Thank God Senator McConnell smoked out that fool Garland in 2016, and denied him a seat on SCoTUS. That was an act of political courage and judgment which time has ultimately proved correct.

    1. Pretty sure it was just spite and pettiness, but bullet dodged either way.

  4. Parents that homeschool avoid this tyranny. End the public education industrial complex.

    1. Except that the school district is even happier to take a full helping of tax money out of homeschool family's homes, while providing zero service to those families. Also gets parents who would otherwise be a more direct challenge to district practices out of their hair.

      Win, win, win, from the perspective of a school district. Cultivating a local home school movement is quite to the district's advantage.

      1. A school district of one. Ymmv but fewer students here = a lower budget.

        1. I spent a month in Japan in 1992, and one of the places I stayed had an entire school held open for one student, with principal, vice-principal, nurse, several teachers, the whole business. A new freeway had made the big city schools accessible and most parents were happy to transfer their kids to them. This one family did not transfer their son. No idea why. I met them, he had fun riding my bike around, good kid, good mom, nice normal people, far as I could tell. Everyone, including the kid and his mother, thought it was pretty funny, laughed at the stupid burrocracy, understood that if the burrocracy had not been so stupid, the kid would have had to transfer, still thought it was funny as heck.

      2. That's not completely true. Most states allocate at least some funding based on number of students enrolled. Check to see if your state has a "count day" - it usually happens in the summer.

        1. In my state, they take average attendance per day over 30 days to calculate funding distribution to schools for the next month. But same idea. Poor attendance hurts their funding.

          We had a school locally lose 9 out of 50 teachers because of transfers out to private and homeschooling. The school lose a ton of funds.

        2. I called my kid in both count days last year

  5. By the way, the mother (can they actually use that word?) who published to the web did redact names and other personal information.

  6. School officials say they did not realize the documents had not been thoroughly redacted and contained confidential information.

    So, those school officials promptly resigned, right? RIGHT?!

    1. They made sure to redact their own names from the resignation letter.

  7. This news is about 2 weeks old. Good to see Reason has its finger on the pulse.

  8. These comments are next level insane.

    People make mistakes when acting as agents of organizations.

    In a sane world, people would act in good faith to remedy those mistakes.

    1. In a sane world, people would act in good faith to remedy those mistakes.

      Per LTBF's assertion above, the mother did. If you call people insane for doing exactly what you assert they should, what does that make you?

  9. What kind of information would be confidential in a public school board? Credit card and social security numbers? I would think salaries, contracts, etc all would be public info. Not sure about internal email correspondence.

  10. People make mistakes when acting as agents of organizations. ok open now

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