The attorney who has filed a lawsuit against the Tennessee School Board Association on behalf of a Williamson County parent said the case could have a ripple effect on school districts across the state.
Braden Boucek, vice president of legal affairs for the nonprofit advocacy group Beacon Center of Tennessee, filed the suit after Karrie Marren, a parent of children who had attended schools in the Williamson County Schools district, was denied a records request she had submitted to TSBA in late November. The suit was filed Dec. 17 in Chancery Court of Davidson County.
“This has great potential to open up what’s going on in schools across Tennessee related to transparency,” Boucek told the Williamson Home Page Thursday. “Regardless of where you stand on things, transparency and parental control [within school systems] are two basic principles everybody should be able to agree on.”
Boucek said Marren had been trying for some time to get information from members of the Williamson County Board of Education, specifically on training and ethical standards they are mandated to receive from the TSBA.
“She found the school board was not giving her satisfactory answers, so she decided to come at it from the perspective of who was training the school board members,” Boucek said.
Marren submitted a records request to the TSBA on Nov. 25, seeking “certain documents from 2018 and 2019,” according to the petition, specifically “all training materials not posted on [the TSBA] website for the 2019-20 School Board Academy Catalog.” She also requested several other documents and various communications.
“Karrie’s request for access to most of those records was denied” on Dec. 2, according to the suit.
In an email response from TSBA Executive Director and General Counsel Ben Torres that was quoted in the petition, Marren was told that “the program is administered by the TN Department of Education and all training materials associated with the School Board Academy belong to the Department of Education.”
Marren then connected with the Beacon Center of Tennessee, which filed the lawsuit on her behalf under the Tennessee Public Records Act.
Boucek said there is a court hearing scheduled in a couple of weeks, and it will then be up to the judge for a decision.
“But we think there’s a certain degree of urgency,” he said.
“There are other parents who are similarly interested in this issue. I’m a Williamson County parent myself, and I think there’s a great deal of interest among Williamson County parents about seeing more transparency of what’s going on in Williamson County Schools.”