Some requests go easier than others

Obtaining superintendents’ evaluations in the Crestview, Lisbon and United Local school districts proved uneventful, but getting the evaluation of East Liverpool Superintendent James Herring was somewhat challenging.

For full disclosure, the request for Herring’s evaluation was initiated by his recent resignation from the position and not for this Sunshine Week assignment.

Having left a message at the treasurer’s office for Herring’s latest evaluation, I called back later in the afternoon to ask if it was available and was advised by an employee that she was just going to call Herring’s secretary about it but expected it to be available in short order.

Entering the building awhile later, I encountered school board President Janice Martin, who advised me she was there to honor my request for the evaluation.

Martin said that, for some unknown reason, the evaluation was no longer in Herring’s personnel file and she was there to bring her own copy of the document so it could be given to me. She also said that was the third copy she had had to place in the file, since neither the original nor a second copy was found in the file when my request was made.

The treasurer’s employee handed me another record I had requested, telling me she had been advised I had to ask for the evaluation in Herring’s office.

However, at that point, Martin gave me a copy of the Jan. 21 evaluation, with the notation, “third copy” written on it. She noted it had not been signed by Herring.

Although Martin had given me the evaluation, I still went to Herring’s office and told his secretary that I had been directed to that office for the document, but she said the treasurer was the keeper of public records, so I needed to go there for my request.

I went back to the treasurer’s office to relay that information and, as I walked in, Herring’s secretary was on the phone saying I should come back to his office for the evaluation.

In his office, Herring had his evaluation on his desk, showing it to me. Asked why it was not in his personnel file, he said he was reviewing it and had asked a “representative” to look at it.

When advised I had gotten a copy from Martin, Herring asked to see it and said since it was not signed by him, he did not consider it an official version. He offered to give me a copy of the evaluation he had on his desk within the next two days, also saying that if I planned on writing anything, I should obtain his other evaluations, not just that one.

However, that was the only evaluation he received while working in the East Liverpool School District.

Martin also provided a copy of a rebuttal to the evaluation prepared by Herring.

At Crestview, I told the employee at the desk I would like a copy of their superintendent’s latest evaluation and she promptly entered another office.

Another employee came from that office and said she would get that information for me, which she did, providing the 2013 evaluation of Superintendent John Dilling without asking any questions or making any comment.

The entire process didn’t take five minutes, and no copy fee was charged.

At the Lisbon school board offices, when asked for the latest copy of their superintendent’s evaluation, an employee gave me a somewhat puzzled look and pondered rhetorically, “Now, where would that be?”

She quickly located the file in a drawer and, after saying only that the latest evaluation of Superintendent Don Thompson was conducted in 2008, handed me a copy, again with no copy fee assessed.

The response to my request at United Local School was again immediate, with an employee quickly handing me a copy of Superintendent Steven Viscounte’s October 2013 evaluation with no questions but with several snippets of friendly conversation as she prepared the copy.

No copy fee was charged at United.