Other (indicate in message) Submitted: May 15, 2024 | Updated: June 3, 2024

(May 2024) Request for Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy [Grammar School], in Forest City NC: All emails, texts, and letters 04/01/24 – 05/12/24, related to “a gender neutral bathroom”.

Good evening Karin, Lisa, Jason, Austin, Jen, Dr. Sutton, Timothy, (or Records Officer / Custodian(s) of these records),

Please reply promptly to the following multi-part public records request, which I’m making in accordance with NC Public Records Law. https://www.ncleg.net/enactedlegislation/statutes/html/bychapter/chapter_132.html

This request is related to “Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy gender neutral bathroom” – specifically, as relates to “TJCA in Forest City, NC [Grammar School]”.

If such records exist –

A) Please provide all emails, text messages, and letters received by the Thomas Jefferson Board of Directors, the Executive Director, and the Grammar School Principal regarding a gender neutral bathroom. During the time period of April 01, 2024 through May 12, 2024.

B) Additionally – Please provide all emails and text messages exchanged between School Board Members, the Executive Director, and the Grammar School Principal regarding a gender neutral bathroom. During the time period of April 01, 2024 through May 12, 2024.

For all items requested above – I am explicitly asking that you please DO NOT provide me with any confidential / sensitive / or personally identifying information about specific students or their data (if that type of info happens to be contained in any of the responsive records).

** I’m simply requesting an electronic copy of an electronic record, if one exists. I’m NOT asking for the opportunity to come in person to "inspect", nor to obtain a printed copy of, this electronic record. I’m requesting explicitly that any responsive info be provided to me via the electronic medium / electronic format (in which the copy of this record already exists). If you are unable to fulfill any or all parts of this request, please specifically cite where a reason for denial is justified under NC Public Records Law. **
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Please note that by submitting this request, I’m NOT agreeing to pay any potential fees or associated costs related to my request. If it isn’t possible to process the request without incurring fees, then please let me know the itemized potential cost and clear explanations of those charges upfront, and DO NOT proceed until I respond.

By Law I’m not required to provide a name or address to associate with a public records request, but in order to move things along I’d like to clarify that this request is being made by:

Sunshine Request
PO Box 17391
Asheville, NC 28816

The request has been sent solely by me and my email address [email protected] . If anyone other than that email address contacts you to pursue a similar request, it did not come from me. Please do not commingle or treat that as an alteration or cancellation of my request – I intend to continue to pursue my request.

Thank you for your assistance!

** Sunshine Request (www.sunshinerequest.com) makes no claim as to the veracity of any statements or information contained in any of the requests, or public records, we receive.

Editor’s Note: Sunshine Request makes no claim as to the veracity of any statements or information contained in any of the requests, or public records, we receive.

Status: Response Received from Government

Activity:

  • June 3, 2024 9:36 am

    1 week ago

    from: David R. Hostetler, Esq. <[email protected]> via gmail.com
    to: Sunshine Request <[email protected]>
    cc: Jason Cole <[email protected]>, “Cook, Karin” <[email protected]>, [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
    date: Jun 3, 2024, 9:36 AM
    subject: Re: TJCA Records Request: 1st Reply

     

    Dear Sunshine Request,

     

    I thought I had replied in detail to your May 24 response. It has now come to my attention that I never sent that reply. I apologize. Below is a copy from my unsent mail. Thank you. -David Hostetler

     

    *********

     

    Thank you for your response [on May 24]. The letter you attached contains numerous misstatements of law and questionable persuasiveness. Below are statements in your letter, with with my responses:

     

    1. “Based on advice from the Duke First Amendment Clinic, we believe North Carolina Public Records Law does not require requesters to appear in person to retrieve public records”

     

    Response: The Duke Law Clinic, as I understand, is comprised of students who are not licensed attorneys who, nevertheless, do their best to offer assistance. Perhaps you should consult and offer the opinions of legally-licensed NC attorneys or, more importantly, court opinions or other binding law, if you wish to credibly validate your position.

     

    2. “In fact, it [The PR Act] explicitly requires entities to furnish copies of records if requested. Public records are “considered to be the property of the people” and copies shall be provided for free or at a minimal cost.”

     

    Response: Agreed. Any records requested subject to the PR Act, will be provided for inspection and review. (As indicated in my initial response.)

     

    3. “Furthermore, courts have consistently found that “it is clear that the legislature intended to provide that, as a general rule, the public would have liberal access to public records….”

     

    Response: Agreed. The school will make all records that are public, freely available for inspection and review per the PR Act requirements. Courts have, to the contrary, not found (“consistently” or not) that agencies must email records for requesters’ convenience or to avoid anonymity.

     

    4. “Every custodian of public records shall permit any record in the custodian’s custody to be inspected and examined at reasonable times and under reasonable supervision by any person, and shall, as promptly as possible, furnish copies thereof upon payment of any fees as may be prescribed by law.” The word “and” in this statute clearly creates a responsibility to both allow the records to be examined and to promptly furnish copies to the requester. This does not require requesters to appear in person to pick up the copies.”

     

    Response: You correctly acknowledge that responsive records must be made available to be “inspected and examined at reasonable times and under reasonable supervision by any person.” Providing such records by email does not allow for “reasonable supervision.” Furthermore, you are reading into the statute an additional requirement that does not exist: i.e., “This does not require requesters to appear in person to pick up the copies.”

     

    5. “Attorney General Stein interprets…without ambiguity, saying that
    “because the law permits a requester to ask for records in any and all media in which the public agency is capable of providing them, a requester can ask to have records emailed.”

     

    Response: Attorney General Stein is not a court of law; attorney general opinions are not binding legal declarations. The AG is correct that the law requires making public records available in the medium in which they are available. But that does not preclude making their availability in person for inspection, only. (Yes, one may request email production, but that is not a legally binding obligation.) You and the AG fail to cite any statutory requirement for making public records available, on demand, via email or other electronic delivery.

     

    6. “Because North Carolina Public Records Law explicitly requires entities to both furnish copies to requesters and to allow requesters to view documents, we reiterate our request for copies of the documents via e-mail. If the records exist electronically or can be scanned, we ask that these be directly sent to us via e-mail.”

     

    Response: The Law requires that public records be available for review and inspection in whatever format they are available. The law does not require, that, as you say, such records be made available “via email.” When you state, “we ask that these [electronic or scanned documents] be directly sent to us via email” you only make a request that suits your convenience, not the law.

     

    Once again, I repeat my request on behalf of the school to confirm whether you wish to arrange a time to come to the school to review and inspect any public records you requested, in whatever format they exist.

     

    Thank you.


    Status: Response Received from Government
  • May 31, 2024 3:31 pm

    1 week ago

    from: David R. Hostetler, Esq. <[email protected]> via gmail.com
    to: Sunshine Request <[email protected]>
    cc: Jason Cole <[email protected]>, “Cook, Karin” <[email protected]>, [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
    date: May 31, 2024, 3:31 PM
    subject: Re: TJCA Records Request: 1st Reply

     

    You did not receive a response because you did not follow through with my request for your confirmation of the School’s terms under the statute, including requiring you to come to the school for inspection and review of the records requested. We continue to await such confirmation.

     

    David R. Hostetler, Esq.
    Lexis School Law Services
    4711 Hope Valley Road
    Suite 4F-512
    Durham, NC 27707

     

    direct: 434.210.7474
    main: 919.442.8593
    fax: 855.844.0698


    Status: Response Received from Government
  • May 31, 2024 2:04 pm

    1 week ago

    from: Sunshine Request <[email protected]>
    to: “David R. Hostetler, Esq.” <[email protected]>
    cc: Jason Cole <[email protected]>, “Cook, Karin” <[email protected]>, [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
    date: May 31, 2024, 2:04 PM
    subject: Re: TJCA Records Request: 1st Reply

     

    Good afternoon David,

     

    I’m following up on my previous email sent to you on Friday May 24, 1:12PM.

     

    I have not received a response.

     

    ~ The Sunshine Request Team


    Status: Follow up
  • May 24, 2024 1:12 pm

    2 weeks ago

    from: Sunshine Request <[email protected]>
    to: “David R. Hostetler, Esq.” <[email protected]>
    cc: Jason Cole <[email protected]>, “Cook, Karin” <[email protected]>, [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
    date: May 24, 2024, 1:12 PM
    subject: Re: TJCA Records Request: 1st Reply

     

    Good afternoon David,

     

    Thank you for your response on May 16th.

     

    We understand your position is that Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy [TCJA] will not provide the records via electronic means as requested. We’ve sought input from the Duke First Amendment Clinic regarding your position, and we feel strongly that your interpretation of NC Public Records Law is incorrect. Please see the attached letter that outlines how NC Public Records Law and the Attorney General have provided clear guidance indicating that you are required to provide us with copies of electronic records, and that we have the ability to request that they be transmitted to us via email.

     

    Can you please confirm that TJCA will proceed with providing electronic copies of the requested records via email, as required by law?

     

    Thank you.

     

    ~ The Sunshine Request Team

     

    **Editor’s Note: Please see the 1 file referenced (“TJCA-Records-Request_-1st-Reply-Sunshine-Request-Response.pdf”) at top left in our Documents section.


    Status: Clarification Requested
  • May 16, 2024 10:18 am

    3 weeks ago

    from: David R. Hostetler, Esq. <[email protected]> via gmail.com
    to: [email protected]
    cc: Jason Cole <[email protected]>, “Cook, Karin” <[email protected]>
    date: May 16, 2024, 10:18 AM
    subject: TJCA Records Request: 1st Reply

     

    I am legal counsel for Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy. Ms. Karin Cook, the Board Chairperson, forwarded to me your Public Records Request (PRR) directed to her from yesterday.  Please be advised of the following.

     

    1. The school will attempt to gather all of the public records you have requested. Obviously, with emails, texts, and other documents involved, on both school and personal devices, this may take some time to complete. The School will strive to adhere to the Public Records Act in doing so.

     

    2. I will need to review all records to decipher and extract any legally confidential information.

     

    3. Once the records are ready, we will notify you to arrange a time for you to come to the school to review and inspect those records.  We will not provide the records via electronic means, as the PR Act does not require it.

     

    In light of the above, please confirm, and also clarify as necessary,  your request.

     

    Thank you.

     

    David R. Hostetler, Esq.
    Lexis School Law Services
    4711 Hope Valley Road
    Suite 4F-512
    Durham, NC 27707

     

    direct: 434.210.7474
    main: 919.442.8593
    fax: 855.844.0698


    Status: Response Received from Government
  • May 15, 2024 8:24 pm

    3 weeks ago

    from: Sunshine Request <[email protected]>
    to: [email protected]
    cc: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
    date: May 15, 2024, 8:24 PM
    subject: Public records request. (May 2024) Request for Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy [Grammar School], in Forest City NC: All emails, texts, and letters 04/01/24 – 05/12/24, related to “a gender neutral bathroom”.

     

    Good evening Karin, Lisa, Jason, Austin, Jen, Dr. Sutton, Timothy, (or Records Officer / Custodian(s) of these records),

     

    Please reply promptly to the following multi-part public records request, which I’m making in accordance with NC Public Records Law. https://www.ncleg.net/enactedlegislation/statutes/html/bychapter/chapter_132.html

     

    This request is related to “Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy gender neutral bathroom” – specifically, as relates to “TJCA in Forest City, NC [Grammar School]”.

     

    If such records exist –

     

    A) Please provide all emails, text messages, and letters received by the Thomas Jefferson Board of Directors, the Executive Director, and the Grammar School Principal regarding a gender neutral bathroom. During the time period of April 01, 2024 through May 12, 2024.

     

    B) Additionally – Please provide all emails and text messages exchanged between School Board Members, the Executive Director, and the Grammar School Principal regarding a gender neutral bathroom. During the time period of April 01, 2024 through May 12, 2024.

     

    For all items requested above – I am explicitly asking that you please DO NOT provide me with any confidential / sensitive / or personally identifying information about specific students or their data (if that type of info happens to be contained in any of the responsive records).

     

    ** I’m simply requesting an electronic copy of an electronic record, if one exists. I’m NOT asking for the opportunity to come in person to “inspect”, nor to obtain a printed copy of, this electronic record. I’m requesting explicitly that any responsive info be provided to me via the electronic medium / electronic format (in which the copy of this record already exists). If you are unable to fulfill any or all parts of this request, please specifically cite where a reason for denial is justified under NC Public Records Law. **

    ————————————

     

    Please note that by submitting this request, I’m NOT agreeing to pay any potential fees or associated costs related to my request. If it isn’t possible to process the request without incurring fees, then please let me know the itemized potential cost and clear explanations of those charges upfront, and DO NOT proceed until I respond.

     

    By Law I’m not required to provide a name or address to associate with a public records request, but in order to move things along I’d like to clarify that this request is being made by:

     

    Sunshine Request

    PO Box 17391

    Asheville, NC 28816

     

    The request has been sent solely by me and my email address [email protected] . If anyone other than that email address contacts you to pursue a similar request, it did not come from me. Please do not commingle or treat that as an alteration or cancellation of my request – I intend to continue to pursue my request.

     

    Thank you for your assistance!

     

    ** Sunshine Request (www.sunshinerequest.com) makes no claim as to the veracity of any statements or information contained in any of the requests, or public records, we receive.


    Status: Sent to Government
  • May 15, 2024 8:23 pm

    3 weeks ago

    Submitted to Sunshine Request
    Status: Pending