By Aliyya Swaby
The Texas Tribune
Originally published Nov. 4, 2016
State Board of Education member David Bradley, R-Beaumont, is under fire for allegedly not releasing board-related emails from his private server in response to an open records request.
The Texas Freedom Network says Bradley did not hand over all of his emails in October when the organization filed a request under the state Public Information Act. Bradley said Texas Education Agency staff is responsible for handling those requests, and that he is sure they have been thorough.
TFN is calling on the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office to investigate the issue, according to a release Friday morning.
In October, TFN filed open records requests for communication among board members about the potential adoption of a Mexican-American studies textbook.
Board member Thomas Ratliff included emails between himself and Bradley, in which Bradley said that a “lack of quorum on [it] would be nice. Deny the Hispanics a record vote. The book still fails.” Bradley did not turn over those emails, which had been submitted from his private account.
“All legitimate requests for open records are handled for all 15 unpaid SBOE members by a very professional staff at the Texas Education Agency and I’m confident they have been responsive and thorough,” Bradley wrote in a statement Friday afternoon. “My personal emails with members of the community or friends are indeed private and my personal property. Unlike Hillary Clinton, I handle no confidential documents or state secrets on my personal email.”
But Ratliff said Bradley, not TEA, has the responsibility to release his private emails. “If members are emailing each other without TEA email addresses, staff has no idea,” he said.
Ratliff also uses his private email for board business. When TFN requested state board communications, he asked TEA staff and lawyers to look through any emails that could be relevant to the request.
“All they’re going on is based on what we send them,” he said. “If [Bradley] doesn’t send them anything — his response makes it sound like staff has control over the process. They can’t vet anything he didn’t send them. I didn’t want him to blame staff for that.”
The State Board of Education is next scheduled to convene Nov. 15 through 18.