Is “ineligible” SBOE member Thomas Ratliff a bully? #txlege #txed

Wow.  Seems our Thomas Ratliff makes a habit out of personally attacking moms.  See the below picture.

“State Board of Education new member Thomas Ratliff worked to stop frequent records-requestors ” By Steve Miller

He is seen as a voice of moderation on the Texas State Board of Education. But recently elected board member Thomas Ratliff might also be considered a foe of citizens trying to obtain public information.

Read more here:

Paying the Piper:


See the attacked mom, Dianna Pharr’s post “Connecting the Dots…”

Let’s get started … I requested this document in September 2005 and when Eanes ISD did not provide a single document in response to my public information request, I asked again in January 2006.  I received the attached document eight (8) months later in September 2006.

Brad Shields is former Eanes ISD board member.  He is now the Eanes ISD paid lobbyist. He is also a paid lobbyist for Raptorware – read Susan Bushart’s Community Update #5.  Mr. Shields also lobbied for HB 2264, a bill that would increase charges for obtaining public information.  I received this information in response to my public information request toTodd Baxter (sponsor of HB 2264) listing Nola Wellman (Eanes superintendent) and Thomas Ratliff (lobbyist) as the “source” of HB 2264.  Baxter’s only claim to fame was his introduction of legislation that would weaken school districts’ accountability to the public by weakening Open Records Act requirements, a bill so blatantly wrong that it never even made it out of committee.

During his time on the Eanes ISD school board, Brad Shields was a Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) board member and a lobbyist as well.  Here are receipts showing that Eanes ISD paid for Mr. Shield’s TASB trip to Washington, D.C. when he was a TASB board member and a lobbyist … (Shields Legislative Associates). I wonder why our school district paid these expenses instead of TASB?  When Eanes ISD parent Susan Bushart (see Community Update page of this site) contacted Mr. Shields to inquire about this reimbursement … click here.  Eanes ISD taxpayers are still funding Mr. Shields … Click here to inspect checks provided to Mr. Shields by Eanes ISD.  And one more thing?  Guess who served Todd Baxter as Campaign Manager when Baxter ran for State Representative?  Brad Shields, Eanes ISD school board member.

—> 2008 Update:   Brad Shields and Eanes ISD (No receipts for his travel reimbursement.)

—> 2010 Update:   Superintendent Nola H. Wellman (Now she’s figured out a way to hide her travel receipts …)

The 2006 Lobby List posted by the Texas Ethics Commission lists Bill Ratliff, former Texas state Senator and acting Lt. Governor as TASB lobbyist.   He is also father and business partner of lobbyist Thomas Ratliff … Ratliff and Company.   Apparently, Bill Ratliff serves as “adviser to the firm and its clients.”  Want to learn if your school district hires a tax-funded lobbyist?  Click here.

Apparently Shannon Ratliff worked 35 years for McGinnis, Lockridge & Kilgore and then switched to Akin Gump.  More here. McGinnis, Lockridge and Kilgore represents Eanes ISD in many areas including attempts to withhold public information from the public and writing amicus briefs about “Vexatious Requestors.”  Who coined that phrase?  Keep reading. 

There’s another Shannon Ratliff, too.  Apparently, Shannon Ratliff II works with Dave Thompson, Bracewell Guliani attorney who is leading the charge to sue Lake Travis ISD parents for using the Texas Public Information Act “too much.”  Find Shannon II and Dave together on the “Texas Lobby Power Rankings.”   Akin Gump made the list, too.  And yes,McGinnis, Lockridge & Kilgore as well.  Click here to review a sample of tax dollars dispersed to that law firm by Eanes ISD … information obtained from Eanes ISD check register … available only on  

Back to Eanes ISD … Board president Robert Durkee wrote a letter to TASB requesting the issue of open records as a legislative priority for TASB.  Seems to me that school boards should work together as a “body corporate” and not as a single individual.  Maybe Mr. Durkee should brush up on his ethics (and board policies) before forwarding letters on behalf of the Eanes ISD school board without the knowledge of the Eanes ISD school board.  The Eanes ISD board ratifiedthe letter (after the fact) during the October 2006 Eanes ISD board meeting.  That letter is the subject of a pending public information request.  Also in October, the Eanes ISD board meeting minutes reflect an invitation to meet with another ISD board and I am interested in learning more. Update: More links soon.

The Texas Ethics Commission website lists Brad ShieldsDave Thompson (attorney representing Lake Travis ISD suing parents in that district for use of the Texas Public Information Act), and Randall (Buck) Wood (representing lobbyistThomas Ratliff who is suing the Eanes ISD) … all lobbyists for Open Records and Open Meetings … here.   I wonder if who will “defend” Eanes ISD in this lawsuit.  I wonder if Eanes ISD is insured for litigation such as this though TASB.  SEE UPDATE BELOW. The Eanes ISD 05-06 check register reflects these tax dollars expended to TASB … no description currently available.

Speaking of civil rights, I am a volunteer advocate for children with disabilities.  Back in 2004 when my attempts at informal resolution within the district failed, I submitted a complaint against Eanes ISD to the Office of Civil Rights. The district retained outside legal counsel.  When OCR substantiated my complaint, Eanes ISD Superintendent Nola Wellman called that federal agency and attempted to have the decision reversed:  OCR phone log here

So, who coined the phrase “Vexatious Requestor?”  I submitted my first public information request in 2003.  One full year prior to my first request, in 2002 the TASB “legislative agenda”  included the following statement:

TASB shall support amending the Public Information Act to address an abuse of the process by vexatious requestors, who use repetitive requests solely to harass and cause excessive financial costs to governmental entities.

And Todd Baxter?  Connect the dots …  

Dianna Pharr


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