Saline County Prosecutor Ken Casady has launched a criminal investigation into the finances of the Bryant School District. The investigation follows an audit that revealed that the district did not properly take bids on construction projects and some questionable spending on an American Express card. Unfortunately, getting public information from the district has proved to be a problem.
On April first, KATV sent two Freedom of Information Act requests to the school district following the suspension of the superintendent and questions of financial impropriety. According to the attorney general's own FOIA handbook, "records must be made available immediately unless in active use or storage, in which case they must be made available within three working days of the request."
Two days later, KATV sent a follow up to our request. A day after that, we finally received a response.
"We are working on getting the information together...Hopefully, we will have something for you today or first of next week," said Bryant Director of Communications Devin Sherrill.
Beyond the violation of Arkansas law, even the district's estimated timeline wasn't kept.
Now a week late, KATV is still waiting for the district to act. KATV was told by both Assistant Superintendent Don McGohan and Sherrill that the school attorney, Jay Bequette, was reviewing the request and causing the delay. When KATV reached out to Bequette, he said he'd never even heard of the FOIA request.
Finally, Interim Superintendent Dr. Fred Dawson intervened and referred us to the prosecutor. Casady told KATV he was not interfering with the district's release of the documents to the media. After yet another full day of waiting, KATV called the district to find out when the request would finally be fulfilled. Sherrill hung up on us twice.