Commonwealth Court grants access to school board member emails

  • Jan 25, 2012

Melissa Melewsky

In Easton Area School District v. Baxter, the Commonwealth Court ordered the school district to supply emails sent between individual board members and the superintendent over the course of one month in 2010.  Chris Baxter, a reporter with The Morning Call (Allentown) at the time, requested access to the emails. 

The school district denied access based on the holding in In re Silberstein where the court determined supervisors’ emails stored on personal computers are not public under the RTKL because individual supervisors do not have authority to act alone on behalf of the agency. The school argued that individual school board members cannot bind the district, therefore based on Silberstein, emails sent by individual board members are not records of the school district. 

The court expressly rejected this argument and found that such an interpretation would defeat the purpose of the RKTL. The court reasoned that emails that document the school’s transactions or activities are records for purposes of the RTKL. The court also held that emails reflecting individual school board members acting in their official capacity constitute agency activity even if the subject of the emails do not result in final action by the full board.

Read the opinion.

The Morning Call: Court orders Easton Area to release board members' email

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