The California Supreme Court ruled on March 2, 2017 that “the public has a right to access emails and text messages about government business on the private phones and accounts of state and local officials and employees” according to a news story found here. In this landmark case of City of San Jose v. Superior Court (Smith), the high court ruled these private communications are subject to disclosure under the California Public Records Act.
The Supreme Court’s ruling is a strong vote for transparency and good news for citizens throughout California, including those in the Cupertino Union School District community. Under the current District leadership, requests for information have often been stonewalled or refused. Repeated evidence suggests that the Superintendent and Board members use their private email addresses when trying to hide their communications about the public’s business.
One example can be found here; where Board member Phyllis Vogel used her personal email address to ask a community member for a “favor.” By asking this person to post a positive message on a CUSD parents’ social media forum, Ms. Vogel was attempting to secretly sway public opinion. What’s even worse is that Phyllis Vogel conducted this indiscretion at the direction of Superintendent Gudalewicz, as the email clearly points out. Who’s in charge?
Now with the CA Supreme Court’s ruling, CUSD leaders can run, but they can’t hide. The announcement sparked a flurry of Public Record Requests for the personal emails and texts of District leaders pertaining to official business.