FOIA Bill To Exempt School Security Records Clears House Committee

Mar 2, 2017

Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R-Springdale, left) listens as Attoney and former House Speaker Robbie Wills testifies against SB12 on behalf of the Arkansas Press Association.
Credit arkansashouse.org

The Arkansas House of Representatives Committee on Education advanced a bill Thursday that exempts public schools and universities from disclosing security plans and records under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

Attorney and former House Speaker Robbie Wills spoke against the bill, SB12, on behalf of the Arkansas Press Association. He said concerns about releasing school security plans to potential assailants are unfounded.

“SB12 would leave parents with school children no way to determine if their school even has a security plan, let alone how it would handle matters in an emergency situation involving their children. Parents and the public at large have a right to this information,” said Wills.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Gary Stubblefield of Branch, also restricts disclosure of information about security personnel. It was presented in committee by Republican Rep. Robin Lundstrum of Springdale. Republican Rep. Frances Cavanaugh of Walnut Ridge, a member of the Education Committee, raised the concern the dissemination of requested information of school security records on the internet could land in the possession of people with nefarious purposes.

“Even if the parents of the person who was asking for the information was doing it for a good reason, the next thing you know it’s in the hands of somebody that [sic] doesn’t need it that may not have good intentions,” she said.

The bill advanced on a voice vote and now heads to the full House. It has already passed the Senate. It’s one of several bills under consideration that limit Arkansas’s freedom of information law.