The parents of two Moore schoolchildren killed in the May tornadoes are suing the governor, alleging violations of the Oklahoma Open Records Act pertaining to safety precautions in schools.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in Oklahoma County District Court on behalf of Mikki Davis and Danni Legg, accuses Gov. Mary Fallin of denying access to public records pertaining to measures taken to ensure the safety of children during severe weather or violent attacks, according to the petition.
The open records request was filed Nov. 7 on behalf of Take Shelter Oklahoma, an advocacy group that aims to put storm shelters in all Oklahoma schools.
Last fall, the group put together a petition drive to put the issue on a state ballot, but failed to reach the required number of signatures by mid-December. They gathered 120,000 signatures of the 160,000 needed.
Last month, the state Supreme Court said it will hear arguments regarding the ballot language on Feb. 25. The measure was rewritten by Attorney General Scott Pruitt's office.
The request is “for all communications between the Governor, the Governor's staff and Governor's office internally and/or with the State Chamber of Oklahoma, any member of the State Chamber of Oklahoma, any legislator, the Attorney General and his office and/or staff and any other person,” the petition states.
The plaintiffs seek documents “regarding the franchise tax, storm shelters, Take Shelter Oklahoma initiative petition, and any other related matter in regard to safety for schoolchildren and others during severe weather outbreaks and/or matters related to school security in cases of shooters and other dangerous school attacks,” according to the petition.
The request was made in order to provide supporting evidence for their oral arguments in front of the Oklahoma Supreme Court later this month, the petition states.
On Dec. 26, the plaintiffs received a latter from the governor's office stating that the received request has been placed into a queue, but no documents had been received by Jan. 31, according to the petition.
“Take Shelter has requested records from our office regarding the creation of storm shelters in schools. We have told them that we will give them those records,” said Alex Weintz, governor's spokesman.
“The way we do open records requests is first-come, first-served,” he said. “Take Shelter basically told us last week if we didn't put them at the front of the line, they'd sue us.”
“We get dozens of open records requests. Some of them can require reading thousands of documents. Someone in our office has to compile and read through those documents. It's not as simple as hitting a word search and then forwarding an electronic file,” he said.
“At the end of the day, Take Shelter Oklahoma and Mary Fallin have the same goal: to put more storm shelters in schools,” Weintz said.