If an individual board member wants information from the district about a particular topic, how do they go about requesting and receiving the information?

There are various types of information and situations which may apply to this question, and they can result in a slightly different answer. Let’s start with a look at OSBA’s sample policy BBAA - Individual Board Member’s Authority and Responsibilities, under the section "Request for Information." The  policy says:

“Any individual board member who desires a copy of an existing written report or survey prepared by the administrative staff will make such a request to the superintendent. A copy of the material may be made available to each member of the Board. Requests for the generation of reports or information which require additional expense to the district must be submitted for consideration.”

What this means is: you can ask the superintendent for information and reports. Your request should always go to the superintendent, even if you know a different staff member is the one who has the information. If the information or report requires additional work by staff you should expect to be asked to take it to the full board for a vote, to direct the administration to prepare the report. If it is an existing report you should be given a copy.

If you are asking for additional information which applies to a current agenda item, and particularly an action item, then you can reasonably expect the information will be shared by the superintendent with all board members. This is so all board members have the same information on which to base a decision.

Sometimes you may suggest a report or study which does require additional work by staff, but the superintendent will feel it is an important piece of information the board needs. The superintendent, within his/her authority, may provide it without sending your request to the board. You do not give up your citizens right to view public records when you become a board member. However, you must follow the public records request policy the same as any other citizen; this includes paying for copies and staff time required in preparing those materials.

For more information on this question, Ask Betsy's Team.