There is no standard playbook for redacting documents
In other words -- like the Attorney General -- I consider almost anything put in writing by a town employee, elected official or appointed committee member to be a public document.
Trick is to know what to ask for and who to ask.
On July 15, based on inside information, I requested "Any emails over the past 10 days sent between Regional School Committee members or directed at ARPS administrators discussing the release of
settlement documents in the Carolyn Gardner affair."
On July 27 I received a single file that contained seven emails that fit the description. One of the emails was Superintendent Geryk complaining about my already publishing one of her emails to a Regional School Committee member (who was NOT my source).
I of course instantly published the material, floating the document on Scribd, which makes it easier for readers and gives me a total number of views.
The next day I was informed that the documents sent to me had been redacted but did not show up as redacted on my upload. Turns out it was a computer snafu between a windows file and my Mac.
By that time the document already had over 1,200 views and any one of those people could have downloaded it to their computer with a single click. Since my friends in the bricks and mortar media seem to follow me pretty closely, I assumed that had already happened.
So NO, the schools never formally requested I take down the document and replace it with the corrected one (sent the second time as a PDF). But it does bring up interesting questions.
What if I had used technology to undue their redactions and then willfully published it?
Interestingly if public officials ignore public documents requests you take it to the Public Records Division of the Secretary of State's office and they send a threatening letter to the public officials.
But since the Public Records Division has no enforcement powers said officials can continue to ignore you.
When viewing exactly what was redacted it becomes clear the main thing the Schools want kept secret is they like to keep things secret. As in using a "confidentiality statement," which time and time again has been proven NOT valid for settlements involving taxpayer money.
Like the tragic Phoebe Prince case for instance.
Redacted portions below
Click to enlarge/read
Ms. Gardner and her attorneys specifically wanted this agreement to go public, but now I hear they're complaining about too much transparency via these public documents disclosures.
Could it be they expected a far different reaction from the general public when the terms of the agreement first became public?
You would think a prestigious legal firm would know taxpayers are never thrilled about financing large settlements like $180,000 -- especially when they take a one-third cut.
Of course it could have been far worse, as the original demand was for $500,000. So at least the Schools got them down 64%.
And of course if that $500K figure attains mainstream circulation it kind of takes the legal dream team down a notch or two.
Simply put, the general public has a right to know how their money was spent. And why.
Information is intimately connected to free speech: The more of it the better. If you don't like it, then redact me.