MONCKS CORNER — The Berkeley County School District wants a judge to dismiss a Post and Courier lawsuit seeking the release of Superintendent Chester Floyd's performance evaluations.
The district wrote Friday in its response to the lawsuit that the information is not under the district's control and is not public record. A motion for judgment says the records are protected by attorney-client privilege and their release would represent an invasion of privacy.
The district is one of several in the state that uses its attorneys to collect and compile board members' individual evaluations of the superintendent. The evaluations are then reported anonymously to the superintendent.
The newspaper had made numerous requests for Floyd's detailed evaluation under the Freedom of Information Act since he received an overall favorable review and a pay increase in September.
Evening Post Publishing Co., the parent company of The Post and Courier, filed the lawsuit last month in Circuit Court alleging that the district broke the law when it refused the newspaper's requests.
The newspaper maintains that the use of an attorney appears to be a way to circumvent the law, and that the newspaper's only recourse is to ask a judge to force the district to turn over records.
The school district released affidavits from School Board Chairman Frank Wright and Attorney Kathy Mahoney describing the evaluation process.
Mahoney wrote that it was relevant to involve an attorney because of controversy surrounding the election of new board members who had been critical of the superintendent. Wright said the attorneys advised each board member on whether the superintendent complied with his contract and other obligations.
The law firm mailed each board member questionnaires and a list of questions they would be asked in a telephone interview. Mahoney said she took notes during the interviews and prepared a summary of her phone conversations with eight of the nine board members.
The law firm then sent the documents marked "Personal and Confidential: Protected by Privileged Attorney Client Information" to the board members. The information was later discussed during an executive session without, and later with, the superintendent.
Floyd received a 5 percent raise in September, bringing his salary to $196,980, after five of the nine board members gave him a "commendable" review. The district has refused to disclose what rating the other board members gave him.
Wright has denied the newspaper's request asking the school board for the information without it going before the board. Wright said there was nothing prohibiting the newspaper from contacting the board individually about the evaluations.
School board member Terry Hardesty said he would turn over his materials but the attorneys have made it clear to him that the information is privileged.