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Formal Complaints


David Roston / Dubuque Public School District / Chapter 22 - public records and educational records request


April 29, 2104

RE:  Formal complaint 14FC:0010, concerning the Dubuque Public School District.  A request for public records, combined with a request for educational records, was made on November 22, 2013.  Subsequent communications refined the scope of the request.  A significant number of documents were released in early January.  The records were commingled, and David Roston, complainant, requested that the attorney for the school district identify which records were from the public records request and which from the educational records request.  Although not required to do so, the attorney, at the request of Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB) staff, provided the information.  Case dismissed as legally insufficient.

David Roston, JD
2000 Forest Hill Circle                                                                                    BY EMAIL ONLY
Coralville, IA  52241

Dear Mr. Roston:

On February 28, 2014, you filed complaint number 14FC:0010, concerning the Dubuque Public School District.  In that complaint you stated: 

Attached is a letter sent to the Dubuque Community School District and its attorney on November 22, 2013. The school attorney, Christopher Williams, acknowledge the request on November 25, 2013. See attached email. At the same time I made a request for education records relating to my clients' children. I have received hundreds of pages of education records, but I do not believe that I've received any of the public records. On January 13, 2014 I sent the attached letter to the school attorney regarding Open Records request. I noted that he had described the documents he sent to me as a response to the open records request and asked that he identify which documents were in response to that request. His response to the letter was by telephoned. He did not disagree with what I said. He said the school was still working on the requests. Mr. Williams took a new job at the end of January. The matter is now being handled by Jason Lehman. He sent more education records but no public records.

The attorney initially representing the school district left some time prior to the filing of your complaint.  The new contact information was provided to IPIB on March 7, 2014.  On March 17, 2014, the subsequent attorney, Jason Lehman, said he would research the record release to see if he was able to answer your questions.  He said there would be a delay as school personnel were unavailable due to spring break and the state basketball tournament.  On April 10, 2014, Mr. Lehman reported that all public records documents were previously released.  On April 15, 2014, a document identifying the public records was provided.

It appears from the information received that the records request was fulfilled prior to the date of your complaint.  Nothing in Iowa Code Chapter 22 requires a custodian to produce a new document, such as an index, to assist a requestor in reviewing the records.  The custodian did produce such a document for you, even though the custodian was not required to do so.

Pursuant to Iowa Administrative Code Rule 497-2.1(3), the IPIB may delegate acceptance or dismissal of a complaint to the Executive Director. The decision of the Executive Director is subject to review by the Board. 

Iowa Code Section 23.8 provides two options for action by the IPIB upon receipt of a complaint, the second of which states:

“Determine that, on its face, the complaint is outside its jurisdiction, is legally insufficient, is frivolous, is without merit, involves harmless error, or relates to a specific incident that has previously been finally disposed of on its merits by the board or a court. In such a case the board shall decline to accept the complaint. If the board refuses to accept a complaint, the board shall provide the complainant with a written order explaining its reasons for the action.”

For the reasons set forth above, it is therefore ordered that the complaint is dismissed on the grounds that the alleged violation of Chapter 22 is legally insufficient.

Keith Luchtel, JD
Executive Director

Cc:  Joni Lucas, Dubuque Public School District 
       Jason Lehman, attorney for Dubuque Public School District