January 24, 2017
Attachment to Official Complaint
Cobb County School District
Mr. Chris Ragsdale, Superintendent
Violation of OCGA 50-36-1
Please regard this as my official complaint against Cobb County School District and Superintendent Chris Ragsdale and my request for investigation and enforcement action. I request this complaint be shared with the state Attorney General’s office.
It is my educated opinion that Superintendent Ragsdale is in violation of OCGA 50-36-1 due to the fact that CCSD is and has been conducting Adult Education classes in violation of state law put in place to insure tax dollars are not used to provide public benefits to ineligible recipients.
Under existing state law, Adult Education is a public benefit. Any administration of public benefits requires that affidavits attesting to eligibility (due to U.S. citizenship or lawful presence status for a non-citizens) be offered and collected by the agency administering the public benefits – and that secure and verifiable ID be collected from the applicant to verify that eligibility.
In part, OCGA 50-36-1 :
(k) It shall be unlawful for any agency or political subdivision to provide or administer any public benefit in violation of this Code section. Agencies and political subdivisions subject to the requirements of this subsection shall provide an annual report to the Department of Audits and Accounts pursuant to Code Section 50-36-4 as proof of compliance with this subsection. Any agency or political subdivision failing to provide a report as required by this subsection shall not be entitled to any financial assistance, funds, or grants from the Department of Community Affairs.
I have sent a valid open records request to CCSD and spoken to the open records clerk there. Today, I received a response saying that the copies of the above-described documents are somehow exempt from Georgia’s Open Records act.
I want to take this opportunity to commend all concerned at CCSD for their resourcefulness in attempting to dodge the request and to conceal what I believe a lawful investigation will show: The requested documents do not exist, because CCSD is and has been in violation of state law on the administration of the Adult Education public benefit. To be clear, I am of the opinion that the response from CCSD is an effort to conceal that violation.
I attach the reply I received via email:
I am responding to your email submitted under the Georgia Open Records Act, O.C.G.A. § 50- 18-70 et. seq. Your request is included below.
The records being requested are not subject to disclosure under GORA, pursuant to O.C.G.A. 50-18-72(a)(1), because they are specifically required by federal law to be kept confidential.
Open Records Clerk
Policy, Planning & Student Support
Cobb County School District
It is my opinion that this refusal to honor my request is an attempt to mislead me into the belief that the required documents, if they exist, are exempt from public view. Other agencies have sent me redacted copies.
The contention from CCSD is that documents serving as proof of eligibility for public benefits required under state law are “specifically required by federal law to be kept confidential.” I note that CCSD does not cite this “federal law.”
I have been involved in the creation, passage and implementation of Public Benefits laws/OCGA 50-36-1 in Georgia since 2006. Including SB 529 (2006), HB 2 (2009), and HB 87 (2011).
Very respectfully submitted.
Marietta, Ga. 30066