Attorney general rules school must release information

Nicole D. Perez, Alice Echo-News Journal

The Attorney General has ruled that Coastal Bend College must release all public information related to requests for information by the Alice Echo-News Journal and must establish why it wishes to charge between $900 and $10,388 for the information.

On. Aug. 9, the Alice Echo-News Journal requested copies of or access to Kathlyn Patton's emails and memorandums as well as her copy of a DVD that has been at the center of litigation since summer. The newspaper also questioned the charges the college was trying to assess.

In a ruling on Oct. 30, the Attorney General Office ordered the release of all public information related to the request. The college is allowed to withhold certain attorney-client privileged information, education records of students and information regarding the unsuccessful college president candidates.

The AG's office also addressed complaints of overcharges brought against CBC by the Alice Echo-News Journal.

The college must establish the length of time it will take staff to locate, compile, redact and reproduce the files in a step-by-step manner to show how the college came to its charges.

Records have yet to be released by the college.

On Nov. 27, the college, in response to the AG's questions, contends it had to provide its "best guess" as to the charges because it had no way to estimate how much time it would take to review the records and reproduce them. The college says there are 45,000 documents that fall under the requested information, and estimates it will take more than 400 hours "just to sort all of the data."

A Beeville resident, Patricia Myers, is also attempting to obtain the information and also filed a complaint regarding CBC's charges.

The battle for the records began in May when the Alice Echo-News Journal originally obtained a copy of two DVDs placed in the protection of the 79th District court, but later returned them after fighting an injunction filed by the college against the newspaper and several attorneys who had also obtained copies.

The discs contained copies of documents from the computer of Kathlyn Patton with Coastal Bend College were copied by former employee Anthony Sanders, who alleged the college was destroying documents.

Sanders has said he was asked to back-up the data. The college contends he stole it.