MANATEE -- A lawsuit filed against the Manatee County School Board claims it violated the Public Records Act in the case of a Manatee High School coach accused of sexual misconduct.
Paralegal Michael Barfield, secretary for the American Civil Liberties Union and chairman of the Legal Panel of the Sarasota-Manatee-Desoto Chapter, is suing the school board after being denied investigative records in the Rod Frazier case. Barfield made the records request April 3.
Frazier allegedly groped a female student and sent texts requesting nude photographs from her. He was put on administrative leave in February. The Bradenton Police Department has forwarded the results of its investigation to the State Attorney's Oiffice.
The school board refused to produce the records as they are part of an active investigation, said school board attorney John Bowen.
Barfield and his attorney, Andrea Mogensen, said more than 60 days elapsed since the investigation started, making the case inactive. Barfield's lawsuit claims it is a Florida Public Records Act violation to continue to withhold the information on the Frazier case.
Bowen said the case is still active.
"This is an ongoing in
vestigation," Bowen said. "It is active since there is police involvement. The law enforcement investigation is not complete so the 60 days have not expired."
Barfield also made a request to the school board for an unredacted list of current and pending closed cases.
The school district did provide Barfield a list of open cases but redacted all information.
Barfield claims the school board redacted information not required to be censored under the law. Barfield wants the school board to make the redacted record available for inspection and award his attorney fees.
Bowen said he does not expect the Barfield lawsuit to take long to resolve.
"We followed the law and the redacted portions are exempt," Bowen said. "We invited Barfield to contact us if he disagreed, and they filed suit instead of working it out."
Calls to Barfield were not returned.
Erica Earl, the education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @ericabearl