Beaumont attorney asks court to force BISD to comply with TPIA requests

David Yates May 17, 2012, 8:34am

De Cordova

For years, Beaumont attorney David Vann De Cordova Jr. claims he has been diligently submitting Texas Public Information Act requests to the Beaumont Independent School District, hoping to unearth the inner workings of district.

Convinced the district is holding out on him, or at the very least purposefully delaying its responses, De Cordova filed a petition for writ of mandamus and for injunctive relief against BISD on May 14 in Jefferson County District Court.

To date, De Cordova has sent several dozen TPIA requests to the district, seeking a wide-spectrum of information.

Some of the requests include:

  • An Oct. 15, 2010, request seeking the written job duties for the position of special assistant to the superintendent;

  • A Jan. 17 request seeking all communications between BISD and its employees concerning the National Alliance of Black School Educators event held in New Orleans last November;

  • A Feb. 13 request seeking all BISD checks made payable to NABSE and similar groups; and

  • An April 19 request seeking all invoices to BISD from the Beaumont law firm Wells, Peyton, Greenberg & Hunt.

    Despite having a reasonable time to comply, De Cordova alleges BISD refused to produce the information sought in full and failed to seek a Texas Attorney General's opinion, as required by law, after withholding the information, the suit states.

    Furthermore, not only does De Cordova believe BISD isn't being forthright, he also asserts the district responds to media TIPA requests more favorably.

    "Based on information and belief, including media reports, BISD often, when it suits BISD, treats TPIA requests from the public media more favorably," the suit states, adding that media requests are handled with more rapid compliance than his requests.

    For example, BISD responded to local media within a few days regarding the May 1 employment contract for new Superintendent Timothy Chargois.

    "On the other hand, BISD has altogether ignored (with one small exception...) complying with its obligations under TIPA regarding De Cordova's requests set forth above," the suit states.

    Representing himself, De Cordova is asking the court to issue a writ commanding BISD to comply with his TPIA requests.

    He is also seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting BISD from treating future TPIA requests differently based on the identity of the requester.

    Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court, is assigned to the case.

    Case No. B192-446

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