For Wichita Public Schools, Even Simple Information Requests Seem a Problem

On June 16, 2008, I asked officials of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, two simple questions. At least I thought they were simple.

One question had to do with some figures about violent acts in the Wichita schools. The number of violent acts seems high, but before I could understand the meaning of the figures, I needed to know the definition of a “violent act.” The Kansas State Department of Education, which is where I found these figures, told me that the definition of a violent act is determined individually by each school district.

So I wrote to Wendy Johnson, Marketing and Communications Division Director for USD 259, and asked this simple question: “Can you tell me where I can learn what USD 259 uses to define a violent act in the context of these numbers from the Kansas State Department of Education?”

The other question I asked on that day was this: “In a recent column in the Wichita Eagle, Mark McCormick wrote about increasing test scores in the Wichita public school district. I asked him for the figures he relied on, and he couldn’t supply them. I have looked around the usd259.com website for some time, and for the life of me, I can’t find figures like the ones Mr. McCormick must have relied on. Can you please tell me where I can find test scores so that I can verify the claims Mr. McCormick made?”

Notice that I’m not asking someone to send me the test scores. All I asked is where they can be found.

Today is July 23, 2008, some five weeks later, and I have no response. I followed up with Ms. Johnson a few weeks ago, and she tells me that the answers are forthcoming.

Do you think that citizens should be able to get answers to questions like these without waiting five weeks? If you do, please contact Wendy Johnson, whose contact information may be found here: Marketing and Communications Division. Then, please leave a comment to this story telling us what happened.

3 Comments

  • I suspect that you will find that ‘a violent act’ in the public school system will align closely with that of the Kansas state Domestic violence laws. The schools will be hard pressed to define less restrictive conditions. And, I don’t think you can get any more restrictive under the current domestic violence laws. Exchanging angry words with someone in an elevator who stepped on your toes can get you convicted. First one that dials 911, the other goes to jail. I personally witnessed this with the Leaswood Kansas police department. The funny thing was the guy they arrested is legally handicapped and receives a regular disabilty check. We did a story on it.

    The law states that touching anyone in a rude and insulting manner(whether with intent to harm or not) will find you guilty under the current statues. The state doesn’t need witnesses, they can prosecute you alone under the law, if they choose.

    See http://www.kscourts.org/kscases/ctapp/1998/19980904/78778.htm. Be sure and read page 2 of this decision, “State of Kansas v. Paul R. Johnson” and note clause (2) under K.S.A. 1997 Supp 21-3412(c) 1,2,3, 4 etc.

    CRITERIA: “..intentionally causing physical contact with another person when done in a rude, insulting or angry manner.”

    If you can no longer find it, let know, as I have a hard copy printout for the story we did.

    Welcome to POLICE STATE..Bob.

  • Also, be sure and read the COMPLAINT section of Kansas v. Paul R. Johnson under the reference that I gave you in the previous post.

    Here the judge is saying that the act itself need not be ‘domestic violence’ per se, as in the sense of cohabitating couples but merely “..violence of a domestic nature… the elements of the offense are to be gleaned from the complaint as a whole..”

    The inference here is that the allegations need not be verified, it’s simply the ‘seriousness of the charge’ that applies and the law applies to anyone, anywhere in the ‘domestic’ U.S.

    So, interpretation of domestic violence in Kansas is pretty liberal and might even include looking crossways at someone, sneezing on them or making a familiar hand gesture.

    I understand ‘Dom Violence’ is quite the little money maker, 1st offense is $500 bucks, then ther’s lots of work for the state’s attorneys, probation payments, etc.

    And, the eight Amendment to the U.S. Constitution..means precisely what?

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