This is an opinion of the Commissioner of Administration issued pursuant to section 13.072 of Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 13 - the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. It is based on the facts and information available to the Commissioner as described below.
Facts and Procedural History:
For purposes of simplification, the information presented by the person who requested this opinion and the response from the government entity with which the person disagrees are presented in summary form. Copies of the complete submissions are on file at the offices of IPA and, except for any data classified as not public, are available for public access.
On April 24, 2000, IPA received a letter from Kevin Pachl. In this letter, Mr. Pachl asked the Commissioner to issue an advisory opinion regarding his right to gain access to certain data maintained by Independent School District 11, Anoka-Hennepin.
In response to Mr. Pachl's request, IPA, on behalf of the Commissioner, wrote to Roger Giroux, Superintendent of the District. The purposes of this letter, dated April 27, 2000, were to inform him of Mr. Pachl's request and to ask him to provide information or support for the District's position. On May 8, 2000, IPA received a response from Paul H. Cady, attorney for the District. A summary of the facts of this matter follows.
In a letter dated April 10, 2000, Mr. Pachl requested access to the following data maintained by the District:
Copies of job descriptions and salaries for Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Pathologists, Paraprofessionals, Adaptive Phy. Ed. Teachers, Signed Language Interpreters, Vision Teachers, and Principals.
I am also requesting data, which would document the salary of Certified Occupational Therapist Assistants.
In a letter dated April 22, 2000, the District responded as follows:
As you requested, enclosed please find position descriptions for paraprofessionals, interpreters, and principals. The District does not maintain job descriptions for the other positions you requested. In addition, enclosed please find copies of the collective bargaining agreements for teachers, paraprofessionals and principals which contains [sic] the salary schedules for the positions you have requested.
The data the District provided to Mr. Pachl comprise some 76 pages: "Position Standards" for various paraprofessionals and interpreter; "Job Posting" for principals; and the contracts for paraprofessionals, teachers and principals.
In his opinion request, Mr. Pachl stated, "[f]rom my interpretation of the data I received, I was not provided with the salaries for: Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Pathologists, Adaptive Phy. Ed. Teachers, and Vision Teachers."
In his response to the Commissioner, Mr. Cady stated: "[f]or your information, these [the data Mr. Pachl believed he did not receive] are teacher bargaining unit positions covered by the teachers' working agreement provided to Mr. Pachl and includes the teacher salary schedule." (Emphasis his.)
In his request for an opinion, Mr. Pachl asked the Commissioner to address the following issue:
According to Mr. Cady, the District provided Mr. Pachl with all the data it maintains that were responsive to Mr. Pachl's request. According to Article III of the contract between the District and its teachers, "teacher" includes physical and occupational therapists. Speech and language pathologists, adaptive physical education teachers, and vision teachers are not specifically listed, but Mr. Cady's statement indicates that the teachers' contract also covers those positions.
Given the specificity of Mr. Pachl's request, it would have been helpful if the District had identified which documents contain the specific data he requested. However, nothing in statute obliges it to do so. Accordingly, Mr. Pachl should have requested clarification and assistance from the District in locating the data he requested.
Based on the facts and information provided, my opinion on the issue raised by Mr. Pachl is as follows:
David F. Fisher
Dated: June 12, 2000