Hart District declines to release board applications, cites legal precedent

The William S Hart Union High School District office. Dan Watson/The Signal

Citing legal precedent, the William S. Hart Union High School District said it will not release the copies of the applications for those who applied to fill the district’s governing board vacancy to the public.

A total of seven people applied to fill the vacant Trustee Area 3 seat on the board.  These residents include: Ann-Marie Bjorkman, TimBen Boydston, Kenneth Dean, Noe Garcia, Cherise Moore, Hilary Schardein and Teresa Todd.

These individuals will be interviewed, publically debated and selected for provisional appointment during the board’s scheduled public meeting March 29 at 6 p.m.

One of the applicants is expected to fill the remainder of resigning Board Member Robert Hall’s term until December 2018.

When The Signal requested a copy of the seven board applications, it was denied access due to advice given to the district by its legal counsel, according Dave Caldwell, public information officer for the Hart District.

Caldwell declined, however, to name the law firm advising the district.

The district was advised not to release the documents due to legal precedent set by Wilson v. Superior Court (1997) and California First Amendment Coalition v. Superior Court of Sacramento County (1998), he said.

“We are being completely open.  What matters to us is that we get the best people who want to be on this school board,” Caldwell said.  “These two cases upheld that releasing these applications could keep the best people from wanting to apply.”

Both court cases deal with the request for documents and applications for public positions based on the California Public Records Act, and both were denied access by the courts following legal proceedings.

Wilson v. Superior Court dealt with whether the California Public Records Act requires the governor to disclose the applications for an appointment to fill a vacancy on a county board of supervisors following the retirement of a member.

The Los Angeles Times requested this information from Gov. Pete Wilson following a vacancy on the Orange County Board of Supervisors created by the retirement of Supervisor Gaddi Vasquez.

The court sided with the governor and declined to give the Times access to the documents, stating that the applications were exempt from the disclosure because they are subject to “deliberative process privilege” and because the “public interest in nondisclosure clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”

California First Amendment Coalition (CFAC) v. Superior Court of Sacramento County details whether the California Public Records Act compels a governor to disclose the names and qualifications of applicants for a temporary appointment to a local board of supervisors following the death of an elected supervisor.

CFAC filed this request when Gov. Pete Wilson was charged with filling a vacancy on the Plumas County Board of Supervisors following a member’s death in September 1995.

The trial court and the superior court ruled that the governor did not have to disclose the information and cited “deliberative process privilege,” a principle that rules that internal process of a government are immune from normal disclosure to encourage optimum decision-making inside government agencies.

“That’s the basis behind not releasing these people’s personal information that was on the applications because we don’t want to create the effect that people will not want to be a part of this school district,” Caldwell said.

The individuals who applied for the Trustee Area 3 vacancy will be interviewed and debated during a public meeting March 29 at 6 p.m. at the Hart District Office, 21380 Centre Pointe Pkwy.

Following the meeting, one candidate will be chosen to take the vacancy.  He or she will be sworn in to the position April 19.


[email protected]
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS