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The forecast for public access to teacher performance data under Florida's Sunshine Law: Mostly cloudy

(04/11/13 8:10am)

After a Florida court declared that reports about teacher performance must be kept confidential for a year after they are created, a state legislator is proposing to keep the information off-limits for even longer. A bill filed Monday by state Rep.

TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: It's 10 o'clock -- do you know where your college president is? You would, if you had his calendar.

(04/30/13 8:08pm)

Ever wish you had one of those electronic manatee tracking collars to keep tabs on where government officials are going -- the ones who are always "out of the office" or "in meetings" and unavailable for interviews? Well, until they start microchipping college presidents (note: that would be great), journalists will have to settle for the next best thing: Appointment calendars. Last week, a Pennsylvania court decided that reporters for the Associated Press are entitled under that state's open-records act to complete copies of Gov.

TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: Campus surveillance enters the drone zone

(05/14/13 6:20pm)

Aided by technological advances, government agencies are constantly inventing new ways to collect information -- and it was only a matter of time before "drone surveillance" made it way onto college campuses. Last week's announcement that the University of Alabama-Huntsville had acquired a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles with an eye toward equipping them with police security cameras undoubtedly sent a shiver through public urinators and weed cultivators everywhere.

TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: Public records -- delivered hot and oven-fresh... or they're free?

(09/03/13 1:04pm)

Next to waiting for the cable TV installer, there's not much more irritating for us first-worlders than waiting for the public records that never come. Many state open-records laws require an agency to respond to a request for public documents within three, five or 10 days.

Relief for records requestors? Schools ordered to pay fines, attorney's fees in open records lawsuits

(09/20/13 5:29pm)

Violating state open records laws could actually cost you a lot of money, officials in Washington and Iowa have learned this month. First, the University of Washington was ordered last week to pay more than $720,000 in fines for withholding 12,000 pages of public records from a former professor who wanted to see whether she was wrongfully denied tenure at the University of Washington's Tacoma campus because of her gender or heritage.

Minutes of school-board personnel discussions can be released for public inspection, N.C. court rules

(07/24/15 4:33pm)

A North Carolina school board tried to withhold the minutes of a closed-door discussion about the school superintendent's employment contract, claiming the minutes were a "personnel record." But a state appeals court disagreed. The ruling is a reminder that, despite what school lawyers often insist, not everything about personnel decisions is off-limits to journalists' scrutiny.

Snap away: Pennsylvania becomes the seventh state to recognize a right to take smartphone photos of public records

(08/21/15 6:10pm)

A police department in Reserve, Pa., tried to stop a public-records requester from making his own duplicates of government expense-account documents. But the state open-records commission, adding Pennsylvania to a growing list of states, says there's a legal right to take pictures of government documents.