COURT DECISION PRESERVES LIMITED DISCIPLINARY RECORD EXEMPTION IN FOIA

By James A. Petrungaro

 

July 5, 2018

             The Illinois Appellate Court has rejected a plaintiff’s attempt to erode the Personnel Records Review Act’s  (“PRRA”) prohibition on publicly disclosing disciplinary records older than four years. At issue in Johnson v. Joliet Police Department  was Johnson’s Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request for a police officer’s “disciplinary history.” The Joliet Police Department (“JPD”) acknowledged that though such records did exist, they could not be disclosed because they were older than four years and the Personnel Records Review Act prohibits the disclosure of such records. That law states: 

An employer shall review a personnel record before releasing information to a third party and, except when the release is ordered to a party in a legal action or arbitration, delete disciplinary reports, letters of reprimand, or other records of disciplinary action which are more than 4 years old. 

Thus, the JPD denied the FOIA request. 

            Appealing the JPD’s decision to the Circuit Court and then to the Appellate Court, Johnson argued that the PRRA’s prohibition has no application in the context of a FOIA request because the PRRA also states: “This Act shall not be construed to diminish a right of access to records already otherwise provided by law…” The Appellate Court disagreed with Johnson’s argument, noting that Section 7.5(q) of FOIA specifically exempts from disclosure “information prohibited from being disclosed by the [PRRA].” Therefore, the FOIA did not provide a separate right of access to the disciplinary records. 

            Following Johnson, school districts and other public bodies are free to continue denying FOIA request for disciplinary records older than four years of age. For disciplinary records within four years of a request, Section 7(1)(n) of FOIA – which exempts records “relating to a public body’s adjudication” of disciplinary cases – may be applicable. However, limited application of that exemption has been permitted by the courts and the Public Access Counselor, as it requires a decision by the governing board following a legal process, such as a hearing. 

            If you need assistance navigating the mandatory and permissible exemptions found in FOIA, your attorneys at Scariano, Himes and Petrarca stand ready.

ATTORNEY GENERAL'S BINDING OPTION HOLDS THAT EMAILS SENT AND RECEIVED ON PERSONAL EMAIL ACCOUNTS THAT PERTAIN TO PUBLIC BUSINESS ARE "PUBLIC RECORDS" UNDER FOIA

August 29, 2016

By James A. Petrungaro and Anthony Scariano III

            Earlier this month, the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (“PAC”) Office issued a binding opinion that has sweeping implications under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”). The opinion stemmed from a FOIA request submitted by CNN to the Chicago Police Department for “all emails related to Laquan McDonald from Police Department email accounts and personal email accounts where business was discussed” for 12 police officers within two date ranges. As you may recall, Laquan McDonald was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer in October of 2014 and the release of the police video related to the incident sparked outrage, protests and the firing of CPD Chief Gary McCarthy, among other CPD changes. 

             The PAC’s opinion addressed whether emails on the officers’ personal email accounts met FOIA’s definition of “public records,” which includes electronic communications “pertaining to the transaction of public business...having been prepared by or for, or having been or being used by, received by, in the possession of, or under the control of any public body.” Ultimately, the PAC determined that the emails on the officers’ personal accounts were public records.

             The PAC reasoned that because public bodies always act through its employees and officials, emails discussing public business that those employees and officials prepare and possess do not lose their public character merely because the public body does not possess them on its servers. To the PAC, the inquiry under FOIA should be focused on the content of correspondence (such as emails), and not the method by which the correspondence is sent. 

             The PAC also reiterated the Illinois General Assembly’s intent when it created FOIA, which was to ensure that the public had full access to records pertaining to the transaction of public business. If the General Assembly’s intent was ignored, the PAC opined, public officials would be able to circumvent FOIA’s reach by using personal devices to discuss public business. The PAC did not address whether its decision concerning the reach of the Illinois FOIA is permitted by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable government searches and seizures of persons and their property.

            The City of Chicago has not yet announced whether it will appeal the PAC’s decision and its time for doing so has not yet expired. Although the PAC’s decision is binding on only the City of Chicago, the broad ruling of the decision and the likelihood that the PAC would issue a similar ruling in other cases means that it is effectively the law of the land unless and until overturned by a judge. Your attorneys at Scariano, Himes and Petrarca stand ready to assist you with navigating this far-reaching FOIA decision.

 

SH&P FOILS UNWARRANTED FOIA REQUESTS

September 11, 2015

By Paulette A. Petretti and Parker R. Himes 

            On July 17, 2015, Judge David Akemann, presiding in the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit, Kane County, Illinois, granted the Firm’s motion to dismiss a complaint against an Illinois community college, which claimed that the college had violated the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”).  The violations were allegedly manifested by the College’s invocation of FOIA exemptions as grounds to deny requests for voluminous data, databases and compilation of generic student information.

            In David Hites v. Waubonsee Community College, the controversy focused on the validity of FOIA requests seeking data and information that the College did not aggregate in the ordinary course of business, such as aggregated zip codes of GED students, numbers of registered students who lack social security numbers, and records of numbers of students taking ABE/GED classes on certain campuses. The plaintiff argued that even though the public body had not created or maintained records such as those requested, the College should nonetheless be required to “query” its numerous databases to compile the requested data.  To the extent that the College declined to perform queries, Hites demanded that he be given direct access to the databases in order to perform his own queries.  The plaintiff’s arguments were premised on his assertion that every piece of data (e.g. reference to a social security number or a zip code) is a public record and is subject to disclosure, pursuant to FOIA. The Court rejected plaintiff’s theory that each piece of data contained in a database is its own unique public record subject to FOIA disclosure and relied on a strict construction of the meaning of “public record” under FOIA.

 

            The Court ruled that a public body is not required to aggregate data which it does not aggregate in the regular course of business.  Notably, the Court found that “plaintiff’s requests do not seek ‘public records’ as the term is defined in the Act, but rather seek numerical tallies, the compilation of which is not required of the College by FOIA.” Importantly, “plaintiff’s insistence that he is not requesting that the College review its files and prepare a tally and/or produce general data, information, and statistics belies the text of his own FOIA request.”  The Court reminded plaintiff that, “well settled in Illinois law is the principle that a request to inspect or copy must reasonably identify a public record, as opposed to general data, information, or statistics.”  The Court ruled that “the College is not obligated under FOIA to answer general inquiry questions concerning the number of students that fall within the very specific categories crafted by plaintiff.  In order to answer the above-referenced five requests, it would require the creation of new records, which explicitly is not required under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.  Thus dismissal relative to these requests is proper.”

 

            Just as the College is not required to compile data from physical records, the Court stated that “FOIA does not require the College to query individual data fields contained on the College’s database and create a new report that the College had not already generated or otherwise used.”  The pleadings and testimony in this case demonstrated to the Court that the College does not prepare or maintain any documents or databases that aggregate the data sought by plaintiff.

 

The plaintiff alternatively argued that requested pieces of data, such as zip codes, could be found on various paper forms, including the student registration form, used by the public body.  Notwithstanding this fact, the College pointed out that locating, copying and redacting thousands of forms, almost 10,000 documents, would take months to complete.  Responding to the request would also necessitate pulling employees off their important day-to-day tasks, because student registration records include confidential information that only certain authorized employees may inspect.  Therefore, in order to respond to the request, the College would be required to hire temporary employees to do the day-to-day work of confidential employees processing the request, costing the public body tens of thousands of dollars.  The Court found that responding to the requests using the paper forms would cause an undue burden on the public body that FOIA seeks to avoid.  Additionally, in noting that over the course of several years Hites had repeatedly asked for the same information, the Court pointed out that “repeated requests from the same person for the same records that are unchanged or identical to records previously provided or properly denied under this Act shall be deemed unduly burdensome.”

 

Moreover, the Court found that “querying” the numerous databases maintained by the public body for individual and unrelated pieces of data would have unduly burdened the public body, in that most of the College’s IT department would be taken off their regular tasks, causing significant interference and disruption for the College’s functions.  With regard to the question of burden, the Court found that “the College has successfully demonstrated that the burden of complying with the plaintiff’s remaining FOIA requests outweighs the public’s interest in obtaining the requested information.”

 

In summary, the College disagreed with plaintiff’s position that there existed public records that were responsive to his requests. In keeping with the College’s position, the Court determined that plaintiff’s requests were barred by statutory provisions and that the College’s invocation of exemptions and objections was warranted. 

 

            This FOIA ruling provides significant legal authority for any public sector entity seeking to challenge requests to obtain compilations of data, which are not aggregated in the ordinary course of business.  Moreover, to the extent redaction of public records is demanded, this case confirms that a showing of undue disruption of public resources will serve to bar such requests. 

 

NEW RELIEF FROM ONEROUS FOIA REQUESTS MAY BE ON THE WAY

October 17, 2014

By James A. Petrungaro

A little-publicized piece of FOIA legislation that was rushed through both chambers of the General Assembly at the end of the last legislative session will soon be on its way to the Governor’s desk. If signed by Governor Quinn, House Bill 3796 would amend FOIA and create a new set of rules for responding to a “voluminous request.” Included in the relief would be additional time for the public body to respond and the ability to charge the requester fees for voluminous electronic records. The same legislation would also allow a public body to refer a requester to its website if the records requested, no matter their size, are publicly available on the website. A limited exception would apply where the requester can demonstrate an inability to access the Internet.

Scariano, Himes and Petrarca is tracking the legislation closely and, if signed by Governor Quinn, will provide a substantive review of the law’s new requirements.

PAC REJECTS ANOTHER BOARD’S PUBLIC COMMENT RULE

 October 10, 2014

By James A. Petrungaro

We  recently reported that the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (“PAC”) rejected a public body’s requirement that an individual wishing to participate in public comment at a board meeting must publicly state her home address when providing comment to the board. In a new decision involving a separate dispute over the lawfulness of a public body’s prerequisite to addressing the board during public comment, the PAC has again ruled in favor of public access.

At issue was whether a County Board’s policy requiring anyone wishing to participate in public comment to pre-register in writing at least five-business days prior to the meeting. The PAC ruled that the onerous pre- registration requirement violates the Open Meetings Act because it does not further the speaker’s statutory right to address the board, subject only to reasonable rules of the public body that are tailored to preserve order and decorum at the meeting.   The PAC particularly noted that under the County Board’s rule, a member of the public would be obligated to register before the County was obligated to even post its meeting agenda.

Many school districts and other public bodies require some form of public comment registration at their meetings. These often take the form of a single sign-in sheet or individual public comment cards. The PAC’s decision does not address such a registration rule and we envision these requirements to be reasonably related to the orderly operation of the public meeting. Should you have any questions concerning your board’s public comment policy and rules, we are ready to assist you.

FOIA ALERT

 October 5, 2010

Many of our clients have recently received an extensive FOIA request from “Scott O’Connell” seeking disclosure of legal opinions issued to the school district by ISBE. We have prepared a model response to this request. If you have received this request and desire assistance in forming a response, please contact attorney James Petrungaro at 312-565-3100 ext. 257 or at jpetrungaro@edlawyer.com.

Changes Coming to FOIA and Teacher Evaluations

 January 13, 2010

Senate Bill 315

By the time you read this, Senate Bill 315 may have been passed by both houses on its way to Governor Quinn.  The bill clarifies the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with respect to the disclosure of performance evaluations and makes substantive changes to the requirements of teacher and principal evaluations under the School Code.  It is expected to be quickly signed into law to help the State’s application for Race to the Top funds.

FOIA

Under recent changes to FOIA, personnel file documents, including performance evaluations, are no longer shielded from disclosure.  In response to concerns from teachers and administrators over the potential negative ramifications of releasing performance evaluations, Senate Bill 315 adds a new Article 24A-7.1 to the School Code.  The new Article states that disclosure of teacher, principal and superintendent performance evaluations is prohibited, unless otherwise authorized by the School Code.  This addition will allow school districts to invoke §7(1)(a) of FOIA (exempting information specifically prohibited from disclosure under federal or state law) in response to FOIA requests for teacher, principal, or superintendent evaluations.

Please  note  that  the  prohibition,  on  its  face,  relates  only  to  teacher,  principal  and  superintendent evaluations.  Unless contrary guidance is issued by the Attorney General’s office, it appears that the performance evaluations of other administrators and non-certificated employees remain subject to release under FOIA.

Teacher Evaluations

Senate Bill 315 makes several changes to teacher and principal evaluations.  Some of those changes, such as incorporating student growth measures into evaluation plans, are contingent on receipt of Race to the Top funding, or on the state providing adequate funding if Race to the Top funds are not awarded to Illinois. However, the following changes are mandatory regardless of Race to the Top or state funding:

  •  Changing evaluation ratings to “Excellent”, “Proficient”, “Needs Improvement” and “Unsatisfactory”;
  •  Allowing peer evaluation, subject to union agreement;
  • Providing professional development plans for teachers rated “Needs Improvement”;
  •  Providing for remediation periods of shorter than 90 days, if permitted by a collective bargaining agreement;
  • During remediation, replacing evaluations every 30 school days with one midpoint evaluation and one final evaluation; and,
  •  Dismissal if following remediation the teacher does not achieve a rating of “Proficient” or “Excellent”.

The bill also provides changes to the evaluation system for principals.  One notable change is that the due date for principal evaluations is pushed back from February 1 to March 1.  These changes must be made in the evaluation process by September 1, 2012.   Senate Bill 315 will be effective immediately upon becoming law.  Please contact us with any questions or concerns you may have about this, or any other, pending legislation.

Freedom of Information Act

 December 18, 2009

The amended Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) becomes effective January 1, 2010.  The amended FOIA significantly alters the procedures employed by a public body in responding to FOIA requests and makes numerous changes to the exemptions to FOIA.  It is imperative that school districts be familiar with the changes to the amended FOIA, and be prepared to take immediate action to implement the Act.

To this end, Scariano, Himes and Petrarca, Chtd. has prepared a FOIA policy, implementing procedures, and sample FOIA forms that address the requirements of the amended FOIA.  To further assist school districts in implementing the amended FOIA, we have also prepared a comprehensive “Frequently Asked Questions and Answers” document.  Please do not hesitate to contact Darcee C. Williams (ext. 247) or Jessica M. Bargnes (ext. 254) if you would like a copy of those documents.

Because the January 1, 2010 effective date of the amended FOIA is fast approaching, school districts must be prepared to  immediately take the following actions:

  • The Board of Education should adopt an amended FOIA policy and procedures.  If your next opportunity to do so is at the January Board meeting, please do so at that meeting.

 

  • The amended FOIA requires school districts to appoint at least one FOIA officer to handle all FOIA requests.   We recommend that the Board of Education appoint two FOIA officers to ensure that one FOIA officer is available in the other’s absence.  Again, if this cannot be done until the first January meeting, please do so at that meeting.
  • The amended FOIA requires that the following documents be posted on a school district’s website:
  • A block diagram of the school district’s functional subdivisions;
  • The total of the school district’s operating budget;
  • The number and location of all of the school district’s separate offices;
  • The approximate number of the school district’s full and part-time employees;
  • The identification and membership of all boards, commissions and committees which operate in an advisory capacity to the operation of the school district, or which exercise control over the school district’s policies or procedures, or to which the school district is required to report and be answerable for school district operations;
  • A description of the methods whereby the public may request information and public records;
  • A directory identifying the FOIA officers;
  • The address where requests for information should be directed; and
  • A schedule of fees permitted under FOIA.

By taking action on these issues prior to January 1, 2010, the effective date of the amended FOIA, the school district will ensure that it is in compliance with the Act.

Please do not hesitate to contact Scariano, Himes and Petrarca, Chtd. to discuss your school district’s implementation of the amended FOIA.  The Firm offers, five hours of inservice each year as a complimentary service to its clients. We encourage our clients to use that time to review the changes to FOIA, and we invite you and your Board members to attend our annual client seminar on February 6, 2010, where we will present, in greater depth, on the amended FOIA.

Scariano, Himes and Petrarca, Chtd. has also compiled a number of documents to assist in the implementation of the amended FOIA on its newly updated website located at  www.edlawyer.com.

New “Equal Opportunity Employment is the Law ” Poster

 November 9, 2009

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) revised its “Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law” poster to reflect current federal employment discrimination laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), which is effective November 21, 2009.  The revised poster also includes updates from the Department of Labor.  The ADAAA expands the definition of “disability” under the Act. GINA prohibits employment discrimination based on genetic information.

An employer must comply with the posting requirement and may do so by:  (1) posting the supplement to the poster alongside the EEOC’s September 2002 “EEO is the Law” poster or the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ August 2008 “EEO is the Law” poster; or (2) posting the EEOC’s November 2009 version of the “EEO is the Law” poster. Both posters are available for download from the EEOC’s website which can be accessed by clicking  here.

Amended FOIA

We are receiving numerous questions regarding the amended  Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which becomes effective as of January 1, 2010.  Information regarding FOIA can be found in the Scariano, Himes and Petrarca, School Law Review Newsletter, Fall 2009 Issue.  For a copy of the newsletter, click  here.  Additionally, the Firm will cover the topic in depth at its annual client seminar at Seven Bridges in Lisle on February 6, 2010.  Invitations for the client seminar will go out in early December 2009.

The  Firm  is  inthe  process  of  developing  a  newschool  boardpolicy  andprocedures  incorporatingthe  recent amendments to the Act and is preparing an e-Blackboard email publication to distribute to our electronic mailing list.  In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding FOIA, please do not hesitate to call one of our attorneys.

The Firm continues to offer five free hours of in-service training annually. The training may be divided between administrators and board members, and is available on numerous topics including FOIA.  You are encouraged to contact your attorney at Scariano, Himes and Petrarca to schedule your 2010 inservice hours.

Scariano Himes & Petrarca Hospitality Suite

As a reminder, if you have not RSVP’d to attend the Scariano, Himes and Petrarca Hospitality Suite on Friday November 20, 2009 you can still do so by sending an email to emcnulty@edlawyer.com by November 13, 2009, with a list of attendees.  The Hospitality Suite will follow the IASB, IASA and IASBO 77th  Joint Annual Convention from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Mid-America Club located at the AON Center, 200 East Randolph, 80th Floor, Chicago, Illinois.  To link to the invitation and for directions, click  here.

Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") request for records from CBS 2

July 31, 2009

TO: SCHOOL DISTRICTS

RE: CBS 2 FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST

By now, many school districts across the Chicago metropolitan area have received a Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") request for records from CBS 2

WBBM-TV. The request seeks, among other things, records pertaining to corporal punishment administered to students, the use of time-out rooms, and complaints relating to both. Much of the information sought is exempt from disclosure under the FOIA since it involves confidential student record information. Nonetheless, the FOIA requires the school district, as a public body, to respond to a FOIA request within seven (7) working days of receipt of the request. Your response must indicate what information is exempt, what information will be furnished, and how that information will be made available.

We have prepared a draft response to the request which can be personalized to address the recordsl/information your district has which are relevant to the

CBS request. If you desire assistance in responding to the CBS FOIA request, please contact the attorney with whom you normally work.

Freedom of Information Act

 May 29, 2009

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is undergoing a dramatic revision in Illinois - both in the judiciary and legislative systems. Both the judicial and legislative branches are calling for increased transparency in the government, and are taking steps to ensure that the policy of the state is clearly one of openness and accountability.

RECENT  SUPREME  COURT DECISION

On May 21, 2009, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed an appellate court decision which held that: (1) disclosure of a superintendent's employment contract did not constitute an invasion of person privacy for purposes of exemption from the Act's disclosure requirements; and (2) a superintendent's employment contract does not fall into FOIA's exemption for personnel files. Stern v. Wheaton-Warrenville Community Unit School District 200, 2009 WL 1416105.

This case at issue arose when Mark Stem, a resident of Wheaton-Warrenville Community Unit School District 200, filed a FOIA request for the superintendent's contract. School District 200 denied the request on the basis that, because the contract is contained in the personnel file, it is exempt from disclosure. After involving the Illinois Attorney General, and appealing the denial of his request to the Board of Education, Stem filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of DuPage County seeking disclosure of the contract under FOIA. The Circuit Court held in favor of the school district, finding that a superintendent's contract should reasonably be found in a personnel file, and that a personnel file is exempt from disclosure under FOIA.

Stern appealed to the Appellate Court, which reversed the Circuit Court's decision on grounds that a superintendent's contract would bear upon his or her public duties and was thus subject to disclosure under FOIA.

The Supreme Court affirmed the Appellate Court's decision and held that: (1) the Superintendent's contract bore upon his public duties, thus subjecting it to disclosure under FOIA; and (2) the physical location of a document bears no relation to whether it must be disclosed. The Court recognized that one purpose of FOIA is to allow access to documents that bear upon an employee's public duties, while the intent of the personnel files exemption is to protect an employee's personal privacy. In this instance, the superintendent's contract bore upon public duties, and its disclosure would most likely not affect his privacy. The court stated that private information that may be in the contract, such as a social security number or a bank account number, could be redacted before the document was disclosed in response to a FOIA request.

Accordingly, school districts should be aware that employees' contracts will be subject to disclosure under FOIA, so long as the contract bears upon that employee's public duties, subject only to the redaction of information that if disclosed would clearly violate an employee's personal privacy rights. This holds true regardless of the physical location of the document.

LEGISLATIVE ACTION

In the wake of this Supreme Court decision, which clarifies FOIA's call for governmental transparency, the Illinois General Assembly rushed Senate Bill 189 through both Houses; it is a dramatic re-write of portions of the Open Meetings Act and FOIA. As of Thursday, May 28, 2009, both houses had unanimously passed Senate Bill 189 and it was sent to Governor Quinn. If Governor Quinn signs Senate Bill 189, it will become law.

Senate Bill 189 clearly states that there is a presumption that all records in the custody of a public body are presumed to be open to inspection or copying. If a public body asserts that a document is exempt from disclosure, the public body must be able to prove as much by clear and convincing evidence.

The new legislation would also amend FOIA by clarifying that all public documents and related communications, including email messages among officials and employees, will be subject to disclosure pursuant to FOIA. Additionally, under Senate Bill 189, the timelines for complying with FOIA will be shortened, and if a public body fails to respond to a request within the designated timeline, the public body is prohibited from charging for copies. Further, if a public body denies a request, and such denial is subsequently overturned, costs will be borne by the public body, and penalties for non-compliance will be imposed.

The new legislation would create a Public Access Counselor, a position that will be a part of the Illinois Attorney General's office, and will be charged with training and regulating state employees in the distribution of public information, as well as issuing binding opinions as to whether documents requested are exempt under FOIA. Those decisions may be appealed to the circuit court pursuant to the Administrative Review Act.

Finally, Senate Bill 189 requires each public body to appoint Freedom of Infonnation Officers, which will have special duties under the Act with regard to compiling and disclosing documents.

If you have any questions regarding the impact of the Supreme Court's ruling, please contact our offices. As the legislative process comes to a close with respect to amendments to the Act, we will provide you additional updates regarding your obligations when faced with a FOIA request.

ILLINOIS POLICY INSTITUTE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST

IMMEDIATE ATTENTION REQUIRED

September 9, 2008

By now, many school districts across the Chicago metropolitan area have received a Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") request for records from the Illinois Policy Institute. The request seeks, among other things, records pertaining to private providers of various services to the school district. Much of the information sought is exempt from disclosure under the FOIA since it involves the creation of a new record. Nonetheless, the FOIA requires the school district, as a public body, to respond to a FOIA request within seven (7) working days of receipt of the request. Your response must indicate what information is exempt, what information will be furnished, and how that information will be made available. Additionally, if the District denies the request, the response must indicate the basis for that denial.

We have prepared a draft response to the request which can be personalized to address the records information your district has which are relevant to the Illinois Policy Institute request. If you desire assistance in responding to the Illinois Policy Institute FOIA request, please contact the attorney with whom you normally work.

 

CBS 2 FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST

MEMORANDUM IMMEDIATE ATTENTION REQUIRED

JULY 31, 2008

By now, many school districts across the Chicago metropolitan area have received a Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") request for records from CBS 2 WBBM-TV. The request seeks, among other things, records pertaining to corporal punishment administered to students, the use of time-out rooms, and complaints relating to both. Much of the information sought is exempt from disclosure under the FOIA since it involves confidential student record information. Nonetheless, the FOIA requires the school district, as a public body, to respond to a FOIA request within seven (7) working days of receipt of the request. Your response must indicate what information is exempt, what information will be furnished, and how that information will be made available.

We have prepared a draft response to the request which can be personalized to address the recordsl/information your district has which are relevant to the CBS request. If you desire assistance in responding to the CBS FOIA request, please contact the attorney with whom you normally work.