This is turning in a real “choose your own adventure” story.
San Antonio Express-News (TX) – January 22, 2016The Alamo Colleges is fighting the release of the terms of a separation agreement with Craig Follins, former president of Northeast Lakeview College, that the district’s board of trustees approved last month in a public vote.
In response to a formal Public Information Act request submitted Dec. 17, the Alamo Colleges last week sent a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asking to withhold the agreement from the public. According to the letter, signed by Alamo Colleges attorney Roxella T. Cavazos, the separation agreement stipulates that if a public records request for the document is made, the community college district will request the attorney general’s opinion.
Cavazos also said the agreement contains facts regarding Follins that would constitute an invasion of privacy if released. The district refused to release a redacted version of the agreement.
“It seems that we would be in breach of contract without going to the attorney general on this,” spokesman Mario Muñiz said.
Follins sent a similar letter to Paxton urging that the San Antonio Express-News’ records request be denied. He did not return a message Thursday seeking comment.
Kelley Shannon, executive director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, said she had never heard of an agreement involving public officials stipulating that record requests would automatically be referred to the attorney general.
“By trying to put it behind this wall initially, they’re trying to use the law for purposes it’s not intended to be used for,” Shannon said. “They’re trying to hide the information in advance and keep the information from the public, and this is highly troublesome to me as an open-government advocate.”
Follins is still working for the district as a special project administrator, earning a salary of $205,000, Muñiz said. The district declined to say when Follins’ term is set to end.