Green v. School Administrative Unit #55Annotate this Case
Plaintiff Donna Green appealed a superior court decision to enter judgment in favor of defendants School Administrative Unit #55 (SAU), Timberlane Regional School District, Nancy Steenson, and Earl F. Metzler, II. This matter arose out of Green's request for documents under the Right to Know law; the trial court concluded that plaintiff was not entitled to receive electronic copies of documents that she had requested from defendants. Responding to her request for documents, Steenson, the chair of the school board, told plaintiff could make an appointment to “see the documents” that she had requested. Plaintiff replied, “in that case, give me the file electronically and we will all save money and time”; in response to this communication, the SAU stated that it had already responded to plaintiff’s request. Plaintiff noted that her “request is for an electronic file . . . or a paper report, whichever suits the district,” and she declined to make an appointment to view the documents. Plaintiff explained that “[a]ll of the documents requested could have been emailed or copied in the time it has taken to answer these excuses for not providing [them]. . . . This isn’t that difficult.” In response, the SAU stated that the documents that she requested were immediately “available for public inspection.” After reviewing the parties’ arguments, the Supreme Court found that both proffered interpretations of RSA 91-A:4, V were reasonable. Accordingly, the Court concluded that the Right-to-Know statute was ambiguous. "In light of the purpose of the Right-to-Know Law, and our broad construction of it, we conclude that the trial court erred when it determined that the plaintiff was not entitled to the requested documents in electronic format. Although the SAU notified the plaintiff that the documents that she requested were available for inspection, there is no evidence in the record that the paper documents made available constituted 'original records' as contemplated by RSA 91-A:4, V." Accordingly, the Court concluded plaintiff was entitled to the requested documents in electronic format.