WASD Responds to Fox Sports Williamsport RTK Request

On June 17, 2019 Fox Sports Williamsport submitted a Right To Know Law Records Request with the Williamsport Area School District in regard to the Millionaires Baseball team trip to Myrtle Beach during the 2017-2018 school year.

This article begins a series of stories related to the responses and lack of responses to any number of document requests made to the Williamsport Area School District.

Within the responses offered, the Williamsport Area School District confirms both criminal and non-criminal investigations have been conducted in this matter.

Fox Sports Williamsport has independently confirmed a conversation occurred with Myrtle Beach law enforcement authorities with members of the Office of the Lycoming County District Attorney. That conversation was noted as the incident was “a prank”.

To date, the incident which was video recorded and subsequently shared on multiple social media platforms by a member of the Williamsport Millionaires Baseball team; Fox Sports Williamsport has confirmed is still in the evidentiary custody of the Office of the Lycoming County District Attorney and has not been provided to Myrtle Beach law enforcement authorities who hold ultimate jurisdiction in the case.

As background, a Childline call was made on or around May 18, 2018 reporting this incident. As a follow-up, on August 24, 2018 the story titled “Millionaire Baseball Mayhem in Myrtle Beach” appeared on FoxSportsWilliamsport.com and included the following:

For further clarity in this matter, Fox Sports Williamsport this morning received the following from the Williamsport Area High School Solicitor Fred Holland, of the local law firm Holland Murphy, Butterfield, & Holland, P.C. in response to a request for information for this story:

“Hello, Todd.

Near the end of the school year, an incident involving indecent and inappropriate behavior on the part of a baseball player during the team’s spring trip was brought to the attention of District officials. A prompt investigation was done, and appropriate discipline was imposed. By the time the District was aware of the incident, law enforcement officials had already been contacted.”

A large number of community members have expressed significant concern into the handling of this incident by the Williamsport Area School District.

As previously outlined in articles on FoxSportsWilliamsport.com the trip appeared to be an absolute free for all with little student supervision.

After asking for a 30-day extension for legal review, WASD on July 18, 2019 answered as noted below. Fox Sports Williamsport has also taken great care to redact items due to the fact that minor children are involved in this case.

Fox Sports Williamsport requests as numbered from June 17, 2019: (WASD response in italics)
Mr. Todd Bartley, 460 Market Street, Suite 310, Williamsport, PA 17701

Dear Mr. Bartley:

On June 18, 2019, you requested various records pertaining to the high school baseball team’s trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in the spring of 2018. Your request is granted in part and denied in part as follows. The documents responsive to your request are enclosed.

However, other documents were reviewed, but are not being disclosed because they meet one of the following exceptions to disclosure outlined in the Right to Know Law (“RTKL”): record containing information that would disclose individually identifiable health information or other sensitive medical information, 65 P.S. § 67.708(b)(5); record containing personal identification information, 65 P.S. § 67.708(b)(6); record containing a performance rating or review, 65 P.S. § 67.708(b)(7) (ii); record containing written criticisms of an employee, 65 P.S. § 67.708(b)(7)(vi); record containing information regarding discipline, demotion, or discharge, 65 P.S. § 67.708(b)(7)(viii); notes by a public official solely for his/her personal use, 65 P.S. § 67.708(b)(12); record relating to a criminal investigation, 65 P.S. § 67.708(b)(16); record relating to a non-criminal investigation, 65 P.S. § 67.708(b)(17); record identifying the name of a child age 17 or younger, 65 P.S. § 67.708(b)(30).

Other records are exempt from disclosure because they are not “records” or “public records” as those terms are defined in the RTKL, 65 P.S. § 67.102, they are protected by attorney-client privilege or the work product doctrine, or they cannot be disseminated pursuant to other laws such as the Criminal History Record Information Act, 18 Pa.C.S. § 9101, et seq., the Child Protective Services Law, 23 Pa.C.S. § 6301, ef seq., or the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g. Other records simply don’t exist.

For purposes of clarity, I will address your requests individually in the order in which you listed them,

2). The hotel room assignments as outlined by the WASD Baseball Coaching Staff for the baseball team trip to Myrtle Beach during the 2017-2018 school year.

Hotel room assignments — Denied because no record exists

4). Any clearances submitted by chaperones who accompanied the WASD Baseball team on the trip to Myrtle Beach during the 2017-2018 school year.

Chaperone clearances — Denied because these items are neither records, nor public records as those terms are defined in the RTKL. Further, regarding criminal background checks, dissemination is prohibited under the Criminal History Record Information Act, 18 Pa.C.S. § 9106. As to child abuse clearances, dissemination is prohibited under the Child Protective Services Law, 23 Pa.C.S. § 6335.

4). The cell phone records on school owned phones or personal cell phones that conducted WASD related business since January 1, 2018 to present day that relate to the baseball team trip to Myrtle Beach during the 2017-2018 school year.

Records to include but not be limited to text messages, voice mails and phone calls made and received, including records preserved or deleted for the following WASD employees:

a). Brandon Pardoe, b). Randy Zangara, c). Sean McCann, d). Ryan Miller, e).Alicia Carnevale.

f). In addition, any and all WASD employees or coaches files on the baseball team trip to Myrtle Beach during the 2017-2018 school year.

(Erroneously numbered as 4) Cell phone records from January 1, 2018, to the date of the request for phones on which WASD business was conducted pertaining to the Myrtle Beach trip — Granted but redacted because the record would disclose individually personal identification information.

Attachments:

Item 6(a) Brandon Pardoe cell phone log only available from July 2018 — July 2019 and text logs from February 2019 — July 2019 – No records were responsive to the request.

5). WASD Solicitor Fred Holland has previously outlined to Fox Sports Williamsport that law enforcement was notified of the indecent assault of a student athlete during the baseball team trip to Myrtle Beach in the 2017-2018 school year.

Please provide the written document of the first contact from law enforcement received by WASD as it relates to the indecent assault of a student athlete during the baseball team trip to Myrtle Beach in the 2017-2018 school year.

(Erroneously numbered as 5) Written documentation of first contact from law enforcement received by WASD pertaining to an alleged indecent assault of a student athlete during the baseball team’s Myrtle Beach trip — Denied because these records relate to a criminal investigation.

6). Please provide the written document outlining any law enforcement officials assigned to the case from South Carolina, Pennsylvania and the WASD as it relates to the indecent assault of a student athlete on the baseball team trip to Myrtle Beach during the 2017-2018 school year.

(Erroneously numbered as 6) Written documentation identifying law enforcement officers assigned to the case from South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and WASD pertaining to an alleged indecent assault of a student athlete during the baseball team’s Myrtle Beach trip — Denied because these records relate to both criminal and non-criminal investigations.

7). Any notes in any format taken by Brandon Pardoe during interviews with students, parents and staff in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and upon returning to Williamsport, Pennsylvania after the trip. Student names are understood to be included, however, must be redacted under the Right to Know Law.

(Erroneously numbered as 7) Notes taken by Brandon Pardoe during interviews with students, parents, and staff— First, itis assumed that your request seeks notes pertaining only to the alleged indecent assault of a student athlete during the baseball team’s Myrtle Beach trip. That request is denied because these records relate to a non-criminal investigation, constitute notes by a public official for his own use, and/or identify a child then aged 17 or younger

Respectfully,

Wanda M. Erb, Open Records Officer

Williamsport Area School District

2780 W. Fourth Street, Williamsport, PA 17701

Attachments

Fox Sports Williamsport has consulted with a law firm of national renown to begin the appeal process for the information and documents that have not been provided and redacted. A formal announcement on that firm and their role is forthcoming.

In addition, Fox Sports Williamsport will have additional information from the responses provided in the coming days.