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CMS Teacher/Blogger Takes Sunshine Day Award For Public Records


Justin Parmenter, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teacher and blogger, was honored Monday by the North Carolina Open Government Coalition for his use of public records in researching the state's controversial Istation contract.

Parmenter was honored at the annual Sunshine Day ceremony as a citizen who showed persistence in seeking access to government information. He teaches at Waddell Language Academy and told the group his quest to learn more about the contract for K-3 reading assessment began during summer break.

"I dove into it and started just making connections and trying to get people to talk to me, and it was a learning experience to me," he said.

Parmenter has posted pieces critical of the selection process and Superintendent Mark Johnson's role in it on his Notes from the Chalkboard blog since June. He filed requests for reports, emails and text messages related to the contract dispute. In July, Istation filed a cease-and-desist order against Parmenter and others who were writing or speaking against the contract.

Parmenter was recognized at a ceremony at North Carolina A&T State University. Others awards went to UNC's The Daily Tarheel for its coverage of the removal of the Silent Sam statue on campus; to the Fayetteville Observer for leading a court battle for sealed records in a sexual abuse case involving a wealthy businessman; and to Buncombe County for its "open checkbook" financial transparency efforts.

Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.