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Dallemand Defends Public Information Policy | News

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Dallemand Defends Public Information Policy
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Bibb County Schools Superintendent Romain Dallemand said the school district complies with Georgia's Open Records and Open Meetings laws.

Dallemand spoke with 13WMAZ on Wednesday after attending a public briefing from a state deputy attorney general on the state's Sunshine Laws. The briefing for school board members, administrators and the public was held at school district headquarters in downtown Macon.

The Attorney General's office says it arranged the briefing after The Telegraph newspaper raised concerns about how the district has responded to open-records requests.

Assistant Attorney General Stefan Ritter urged citizens to go to court if they feel their rights are being violated under the Open Records and Open Meetings acts.

He said that recently-enacted changes in the Sunshine Laws make it easier to prosecute and steeply raise the fines for violations. But he said the state prefers to mediate a solution out-of-court when a member of the public lodges a complaint. Ritter said a first violation could draw a fine of up to $1,000 and a second violation within 12 months, $2,500. 

Dallemand told 13WMAZ in an interview after the session:

"Well, in general, we do have a process in place that our in-house counsel follows diligently and we have been responding to their requests appropriately and in a timely fashion. Unfortunately you may not get it immediately but we do provide the information that are requested to everyone."

But 13WMAZ has filed its own public-records requests and has not gotten all the information it asked for. We asked for a look at the frequency and costs of Dallemand's business travel in recent months.

Reporter Katelyn Heck filed a request last month for receipts, reservations and other specific travel expenses.

So far, school board attorney Randy Howard has sent us -- twice -- a budget page showing Dallemand's travel budget and the total of his expenditures, but not the actual documentation of the spending. Howard said that would be an invasion of privacy.

We asked again for the documents Wednesday afternoon. Under the law, government bodies have three business days to respond to an open-records request.

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