Williamson County mother, libertarian group sue Tennessee School Boards Association under state Open Records Act

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This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

NASHVILLE - In a case whose outcome could have major implications for some of the state's various local government associations, a libertarian group on Tuesday filed suit against the Tennessee School Boards Association, saying the organization should be subject to state public record laws.

Suing on behalf of Williamson County parent and plaintiff Karrie Marren, the Beacon Center's legal arm is arguing the association acts as a "functional equivalent of government, charged with training school board members in this state."

The suit charges that Marren was "frustrated by the unresponsiveness" of Williamson County school board members who are "legally mandated to receive their training and ethical standards from the Tennessee School Board Association."

As a result of the school board association's rejecting her request, the complaint says, Marren is suing under the Tennessee Public Records Act. The suit was filed in Chancery Court in Williamson County. TSBA's headquarters is in Williamson County.

Braden Boucek, Beacon's vice president of legal affairs, said in a statement that "taxpayers are entitled to transparency when it comes to how their children are educated and how their education tax dollars are spent."

He added that "regardless of where you stand politically, transparency is one of the bedrocks of democracy, and any functional equivalent of government needs to be subjected to the same transparency laws. When a 'private' organization receives nearly all its money from taxpayers and gets preferential treatment to participate in the state's retirement program, they should be accountable to the very taxpayers who are funding them."

A favorable ruling could roil various local government associations in a state which has the Tennessee Municipal League for cities, the Tennessee County Services Association and other entities that provide similar services as Tennessee School Boards Association.

Marren said that "as a taxpayer and parent, transparency in public education is very important to me. My hope is that by working with the Beacon Center, the TSBA will be held accountable to Tennessee taxpayers, and parents will be given the ability to know what is going on in our public schools."

Contact Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com or 615-255-0550. Follow him on Twitter @AndySher1.