Jenny Risner

Jenny Risner

LONG BEACH — An Island County man is suing Ocean Beach School District for allegedly violating the Public Records Act.

Plaintiff Eric Hood alleges the school district didn’t fulfill a records request in late 2018. According to the lawsuit, OBSD didn’t respond to the request within the timeframe required by state law.

The lawsuit is one of many filed by Hood.

Not his first time

Since 2012, Hood has filed 33 lawsuits with state agencies alleging violations of the Public Records Act. The lawsuits spread across the state, including 20 of the state’s counties.

Of the 33 lawsuits, 23 were filed against school districts and colleges. The rest were filed against a combination of city and county government entities.

Including the OBSD lawsuit, Hood currently has four active lawsuits in Washington state. Entities sued include Ferry County Public Utility District No. 1, the Port of Dewatto, and Clark College.

The majority of Hood’s lawsuits have been dismissed in court before making it to trial. Of the 33 lawsuits, he’s lost one lawsuit and won one.

The OBSD lawsuit

Former Superintendent Jenny Risner left OBSD June 15, 2018, for a position in Ames, Iowa. She was replaced by Interim Superintendent Scott Fenter, who started July 1, 2018.

Fenter served OBSD as superintendent for a year, finishing this summer when Superintendent Amy Huntley took office.

Huntley and the district’s attorney, Donald Austin II, both declined to comment for this article. Hood also declined to comment. Hood is representing himself on the case.

On Aug. 26, 2018, Hood emailed Risner, according to the lawsuit. He requested a copy of a recent state audit and all district communications with the auditor’s office. Hood also requested a record of any changes or planned changes by OBSD in response to the audit.

The Public Records Act requires agencies to respond to records requests within five business days. After repeating his Aug. 26 request on Sept. 12, Hood received a response from Fenter on Sept. 13, 2018, according to the lawsuit.

On Sept. 25, Hood received an email from OBSD with 160 pages of records. OBSD told Hood the records included OBSD’s “records relevant” to his request. OBSD also referred Hood to the state auditor’s website, according to the lawsuit.

The Chinook Observer previously covered the OBSD audit’s results. The story is available at https://bit.ly/2kCZIU6.

The Observer will update this story as the lawsuit progresses.

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