School district resists sharing documents with public, press

School district resists sharing documents with public, press

From the Las Vegas Optic

In January 2020, Las Vegas City Schools Superintendent Larryssa Archuleta addressed the Board of Education with concerns about the number of requests for public records citizens and journalists had filed with the district. During that school year, according to Archuleta, the district had received 10 such requests.

Archuleta’s concern, she told the board, was the amount of time requests for public records took for district staff to prepare and fulfill. She then told the board that she believed those 10 requests were “a gross abuse of policy.”

New Mexico law allows any person to request a wide variety of documents from any government agency, like a public school district. Known as the Inspection of Public Records Act, or IPRA, anyone can file a request for things like emails sent and received by public officials; contracts and agreements made between government entities and individuals or groups, including private companies; police reports; court documents; and many others.

Melanie Majors, the executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government said inspection of public records allows citizens to verify their tax dollars are being properly spent, and that government officials are performing their duties in the manner they’re supposed to be performing them.

“IPRA is there to protect all New Mexicans, to provide them with the information that they need to understand what their government is doing. It is government by the people; we the people,” Majors said. “And we the people should have access to our information.”