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School district denies request for information on administrators' salaries

GREENWOOD — The Leflore County School District has denied a public records request for information on the salaries of its administrators.

The Greenwood Commonwealth reports it filed the request Feb. 15.

The Commonwealth said it asked for a list of all administrative employees who have either left or been hired since superintendent Viola Williams won election in 2011. The request included the employees’ job titles and salaries.

Williams responded in writing Monday. She cited a portion of state law that exempts personnel records and employment applications from the Mississippi Public Records Act.

“As the information that you requested falls into the category of personnel records, we will not allow you access to such records. This is done out of respect for privacy rights of our employees,” Williams wrote.

The newspaper said a 1984 Mississippi attorney general’s opinion addresses that very issue. It quotes the same law that Williams does but concludes that “this exemption does not apply to records showing the names of persons employed and the compensation paid to such person, which information is a public record.”

That opinion came as the result of a request from Bennie Thompson, the longtime congressman who at the time was a Hinds County supervisor. Thompson was trying to get the names and salaries of employees in the Hinds Junior College District but had been denied by the district.

The Commonwealth said it filed a public records complaint with the Mississippi Ethics Commission over Williams’ action.

Williams did provide a list of the job titles that she said became vacant on Dec. 31 and which ones have been filled. She said the total amount paid for those positions has decreased from $188,000 to $177,500.

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