On Thursday, The Daily Item learned that it had won another Right to Know Law appeal against Shamokin Area School District. The appeal should, we hope, brings an end to back-and-forth regarding emails and text messages from paid coaches to student-athletes.
Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records (OOR) ruled the district has 30 days to provide the newspaper with the documentation.
The ruling on Thursday came on the heels of Sunshine Week, a fact that shouldn’t be lost on anyone, particularly school officials in the Shamokin Area School District. It also came more than six months after the original filing.
The Daily Item filed the same RTK request with nine Valley schools. Most of the schools complied and some noted the review — to assure that coaches and student-athletes were appropriately communicating through proper channels — was helpful. Shikellamy added a new app to its arsenal to allow for monitored communication between the coaches and athletes. Shamokin continued to fight the records request, arguing the records were not public.
Clearly the other districts thought they were, opting for sunshine rather than shadows.
The American Society of News Editors launched the first national Sunshine Week in 2005 to coincide with the March 16 birthday of James Madison, father of the Constitution and a key advocate of the Bill of Rights.
Daily Item reporters regularly file Right to Know requests because the newspaper takes its role as a community watchdog seriously. In recent months, we have filed RTK request for legal bills at the center of the funding dispute between East Buffalo Township and Lewisburg, one for salaries of teachers and for separation agreements between educators and Valley school districts.
We win more than we lose. But we will always fight the fight.
A governing body’s main job is to appropriately and efficiently spend the public’s job for the greatest good. Our job is to make sure that is the case, all 52 weeks of the year, not just Sunshine Week.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Managing Editor Bill Bowman.