Tyler Independent School District employees did not violate the state’s open record law because information requested about a review of certain library books doesn’t exist, the school’s attorney said Monday.
Some of the requests filed by the Tyler Loop asked the district to identify members of a book review committee, its meeting dates and a list of books removed for review. The Tyler Loop officials filed a complaint with the Smith County District Attorney after not receiving the requested information.
“I will note that there are no District records to provide in response to any of these requests for information for one simple reason: no committee has been formed, no instructions have been issued, and no meetings have been held,” Tyler attorney John M. Hardy wrote in a letter to Tyler Loop’s executive director Jane Neal.
Hardy also contends that even if the district has removed some books from the school’s libraries, officials are not required under the Texas Public Information Act to create a list of those books.
The district did provide the Tyler Loop a link to a list created outside the district by state Rep. Matt Krause and sent to “hundreds” of Texas public schools districts, he said. The list includes about 850 titles.
“The District had already provided you with the widely distributed list of allegedly offensive material and is under no obligation to create its own list of which books (from that list or otherwise) are or were on the District’s library shelves,” Hardy said.
The attorney also argued The Tyler Loop’s request for any and all district emails or texts concerning the topic of contested library books or the vetting process is an “enormous” task.
“If you could clarify or narrow the request, that might prove helpful to providing a more prompt response of relevant records,” Hardy suggested.
In his letter, a copy of which was sent to Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman, Hardy also contends The Tyler Loop improperly filed some requests with the district and inaccurately applied state law in its complaint.
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