This work actually began on February 15th or 16th, 2023. I stumbled upon a website called SunshineRequest.com. I noticed that this site was a clearing house of sorts for public records requests and Freedom of Information efforts. This entity, located in Asheville, N.C. is owned, operated, and maintained by a small team that without a doubt, knows the rules and statutes of their trade.
This site does this as a public service and apparently, they stay terribly busy. Right away, I also noticed that there were a few requests already available related to Cleveland County and Shelby, N.C. There were also some of the same being processed. It appeared to be a tight ship and a smooth operation. I decided to check the site out a bit more and bookmarked it.
A day or two later, I was back on the site and noticed the request directed to the Cleveland County NC School Board, in Shelby, NC. The request was bullying-related. That got my attention. Since everything is done from within their system, when one makes a request, no one knows who’s doing it. It’s all taken care of by the team that owns the website, and also, incidentally, created the software that runs this engine!
So, I began reading the request to the CCSBOE, and my first thought was “This will never see the light of day”. Knowing all too well how this board has not even acknowledged this problem, they have also ignored the many voices who have repeatedly pled with the board to do something about the bullying, fights, and violence.
After the initial request was made to the board back on February 17, 2023, except for the response from Director Of Communications Greg Shull, board attorney Leigha Sink responded on May 8, 2023.
from: Leigha Sink email@example.com
date: May 8, 2023, 12:04 PM
subject: Records Request re: All electronic communications related to “bullies”, “bullying”, “fights”, or “violence”. From 01/02/23 – 02/09/23.
To Whom It May Concern,
We are in receipt of the below public records request. However, the search has produced a result of over 3200 emails. Reviewing this much correspondence to ensure PII is not mistakenly shared would be a very time-consuming and burdensome process. Could anyone at the Sunshine Request Team assist in narrowing the scope of this request while still accomplishing the goal of the requestor?
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Attorney for Cleveland County Board of Education
That’s 3200 emails in 39 days, which is approximately 82 emails per day. And they have been sitting on this information quietly. A wonderful thing, this transparency! Now, they’re holding the emails hostage for $175. Not only is this attorney lacking in NC Statutes skills, her math skills are also strange!
3 hours x $50/hr = $150 (special service charge)
1 flash drive ($15.00) = $15 (actual cost)
Please let me know if you have any additional questions.
Let’s look at that again. $150 special service charge + $15 for flash drive = $165.
(It might pay for the school to check their invoices from the lawyers more closely)
You will see a behind-the-scenes, thankfully, played out on a public site sharing public information, as to how your school board behaves and how their attorney responds to the wants and desires of the board, regardless of statutes and laws.
You will see that indeed, Sunshine Request is bringing the heat.
Although the documented evidence is a long read, it must be read in order for one to see what is being done by this school board, the administration, and their attorney. If no one reads this and acts upon it, then there’s no use to attend the meetings or have an election. It’s your call!
Attend the next CCS Board meeting and take a stand! They cannot refute their own words! As I like to say, the best way to discredit them is to quote them.