ALBUQUERQUE – A judge has ordered the Albuquerque school district to pay more than $400,000 to the Albuquerque Journal and KOB-TV for violating state law by not turning over public records in a timely manner and not meeting deadlines on responding to requests for documents.
District Judge Nancy Franchini also ruled Monday that the two news organizations are entitled to reasonable attorney fees and legal costs, the Journal reported.
Franchini awarded the Journal $293,625 and KOB $118,000 in their lawsuit over documents related to former Superintendent Winston Brooks’ departure.
Albuquerque Public Schools spokeswoman Monica Armenta said the district will appeal the ruling.
“APS works diligently to be transparent in responding to all records requests, and this matter was no different,” Armenta said.
Journal Editor Karen Moses called the ruling a “clear message of the importance of public bodies following the Inspection of Public Records Act.”
However, she said the Journal intended to appeal Franchini’s ruling that an investigative report didn’t have to be released.
Michelle Donaldson, vice president and general manager of KOB-TV, stressed that public records laws are there to “ensure transparency and accountability.”
“A school district cannot pick and choose when to obey the law, especially when it’s writing six-figure checks to outgoing personnel,” Donaldson said.